TBZ puts a hold on companies running floors

Tobacco Board of Zambia TBZ says that no tobacco company will be allowed to run floors during this marketing season.

TBZ Chief Executive Officer James Kasongo told Breeze FM News, that TBZ will personally run the floors to ensure that farmers are not exploited.

Mr. Kasongo further says that previously, some tobacco companies were involved in weighing of tobacco, classifying and arbitration, which is not supposed to be the case.

And Mr. Kasongo says that only two floors will operate in Eastern Province this marketing season, which opens on April 3rd.

He says that Chipata Main Floor and Kavulamungu floor have been cleared to operate while Mugubudu floor will not open because of poor hygiene.

Mr. Kasongo further says that JTI might start buying tobacco early following the company’s request to start buying the produce this week but TBZ will make a final decision this morning after JTI avails its buying prices.

And Mr. Kasongo says that the reduction in tobacco buying floors will create challenges to farmers who will have to move long distances in transporting their crop.

He says that more than 500 farmers in Muchinga province have grown tobacco and will have to transport their produce to Lusaka or Chipata.

Illegal settlers at Chipata Forest given hope

Illegal settlers facing eviction at Chipata Forest Reserve chanted joyful songs yesterday after being promised that President Edgar Lungu will resolve their matter today.

This was during a meeting with the squatters, which was chaired by PF Provincial Secretary Joseph Kolosa, who was accompanied by other party officials.

Mr. Kolosa said that President Lungu would be meeting local government minister Vincent Mwale, Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu, PF Provincial Chairperson Andrew Lubusha and Minister of Lands Jean Kapata at 14 hours today to resolve the matter.

Mr. Kolosa said that affected people should not worry over eviction letters issued to them by the Forest Department because the area will be degazzeted by President Lungu.

Mr. Kolosa charged that the only person who has authority to evict them from the forest reserve is President Lungu.

He told the squatters to start celebrating in advance because President Lungu will listen to their cry just like he listened to the Jerabos in Kitwe district.

And speaking earlier, East Rise Chairperson Andrew Biemba who, acknowledged being an illegal settler, appealed to President Lungu to degazzete the area.

Bishop Biemba said this is because vulnerable people have spent all their resources in putting up structures in the area.

He said that the area, which has over 7,000 people, cannot be a forest reserve because it is about one and half kilometers away from the central business center.