The Small Scale Miners Association of Zambia (SSMAZ) has expressed worry over the decision by government to give the famous Black Mountain in Kitwe to Chinese investors in preference to the unemployed Zambians.
SSMAZ president Simon Njovu said in an interview that his association has been advising government on how best Zambians could be empowered if they owned the slag damp.
Mr Njovu revealed that some directors within the Ministry of Mines were conniving with some Chinese investors to frustrate the efforts being made by some unemployed Zambians to earn a living.
He said his association was not supporting the idea that the mountain should be given to foreign investors because the mountain was left unattended to for many years.
“If well utilized the black mountain can provide more than 4,000 sustainable jobs to the people of Zambia and the government will have an opportunity to collect revenue which can be channeled to other areas of need,” Mr Njovu said.
He wondered why at a time when Zambians were able to earn a living by scavenging the black mountain for two years now to be displaced due to selfish reasons.
“More than 2000 people have been working on the black mountain where different minerals such as emerald, copper and cobalt are being collected but all the sudden someone wants to grab that from them. “We support the idea by both Mines minster Christopher Yaluma and his deputy Richard Musukwa of empowering the local people because government would benefit greatly if these people are given licenses to operate as they will be required to remit tax,” he said.
Mr Njovu said it was the initiative of his organisation in 2012 to request the ministry to issue the scavengers with licences so that they could have permanent jobs and that this would help the scavengers with guidelines on how to conduct their business.
He however said these efforts were being under mined at directorate level in the ministry and if unsupported the slag damp would remain unregulated.
“According to our assessment if the mountain is utilized well, we can provide more than 4000 sustainable employment to the people of this country and this will benefit government greatly as it will be able to collect revenue from the same people. “Government must know that the same funds that will be collected from this mountain can be channeled to other areas of need and we are appealing to President Michael Sata to help the people of this country by granting them licenses to continue mining on the mountain,” he said.