The Department of Forestry in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has disclosed that it is investigating soldiers and forestry officers who are patrolling Viphya plantations over corruption allegations.
The investigation is coming after local media reported that some Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers and forestry officers get bribes from sawyers who cut timber in the forest.
According to a statement released by the ministry, government knows that the media allegations may be true.
“The ministry is aware that there may be shortfalls on the part of some soldiers and forestry officers who are operating in the Plantation in collaboration with the Malawi Defence Force, the Department of Forestry is therefore conducting thorough investigations into the alleged illegal activities and any soldier and forestry officer found guilty will be dealt with accordingly,” reads the statement.
However, the ministry has hailed the soldiers who are patrolling Viphya and other forests and said that the corruption accusations may just be claimed by people who want free access in the forests.
“The Ministry wishes to report satisfaction with the MDF operations in the Viphya and other forests in the country which have greatly assisted to suppress illegal activities and deforestation.
“The ministry is aware of some ill-intended people who would like the Department of Forestry to remove soldiers from the forests in order to have access. The Ministry will not tolerate such intentions,” adds the statement.
Earlier, local media reported that MDF soldiers and forestry officers prevented a patrol team from accessing a certain area where illegal sawing of timber was taking place.
Local media also reported that illegal pit sawyers were cutting timber for soldiers and were giving money to a forestry officer.
As a way of curbing the act of illegal cutting of timber in Malawi’s major tree reserves like Chikangawa and Viphya, government deployed soldiers in such areas to be working hand in hand with the Department of Forestry.