Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo has reportedly differed with Lands minister Harry Kalaba on the approval granted to an Australian investor, Zambezi Resources to start mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
This follows government’s plans to open up the Lower Zambezi National Park to mining operations which have since been put on hold by a court action.
Masebo is reportedly totally opposed to the project as it would put the area at great risk trough mining activities.
In her submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines held in camera last week, Masebo is reported to have said the mine project should not go ahead because it would put the existence of the Lower Zambezi National Park at risk.
Masebo said her ministry was against the decision by the Ministry of Lands, Environment and Natural Resources to issue a mining licence to an Australian investor.
And environmental activist David Ngwenyama said the government through the ministry of mines has no capacity to assess the environmental impact in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Ngwenyama said the PF government should be careful and analyze the environment impact before it allows mining in the park.
But University of Zambia lecturer, Dr. Maphias Mpande said mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park will help alleviate poverty in the country.
Mpande told students at the highest learning institution during a discussion forum organized by UNZA Radio that the country would remain poor if mining was not allowed in the park.
“We are going to remain poor if we do not allow our country to undergo an industrial revolution through mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park,” he said.
Mpande said the mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park would only be successful if the governance structure had the competence to manage the natural reservations.
“But this should not curtail our future generation from benefiting from the natural resources of this country,” he said.
Mpande said the country should allow competent people in the government to run the affairs of the nation.
Meanwhile a Geography student at UNZA, Lungowe Chinyama said he did not understand why government was desperate in the matter.
Chinyama said he did not understand why the government wanted to allow mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park when it was a home for animals.
“We thought the government also generated tax from tourism industry so how will government benefit from tourism if it is being killed,” he said.
“It is a joke that government only has only four people at ZEMA to manage the environmental assessment capacity of all the mines in the country,” he said.
He said government lacks the capacity to manage and monitor the impact assessment of mine it intended to open at the Lower Zambezi National Park and wondered what would happen to all the animals if the mine opened in the park.
. “The current Zambezi National Park has employed about 800 Zambians and the mining company which is yet to come has promised to employ about 300 Zambians,” he said.