Scrutinise mine licences-Chieftainess

CHIEFTAINESS Mwenda of the Chishinga people of Luapula province has called for strict scrutiny of mining licences some investors present to traditional leaders because some of them could be fake.

The chieftainess questioned the legality of some mining licences saying some unscrupulous people could easily forge such documents.

She said some investors were mining under some companies which could not be traced and charged that such investors were only there to steal minerals from the people of Zambia.

The traditional leader was speaking when a delegation of bishops, reverends, evangelists and senior church leaders under the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) visited her palace on Wednesday.

She urged government to consult the traditional leaders before giving out mining licences so that when mining activities begin they would not disrupt the lives of the local people.

The chieftainess said it would be better if Government stopped issuing mining licences to investors until systems were harmonized.

She said although investors promised to develop the areas, in which they operate before they are given mining licences, they did not fullfill their promises after getting permission to mine.

The traditional leader said due to mining activities, eight households  in Harare were displaced while 14 farms were also affected.

She said investors have degraded the land due to illegal mining of manganese.

Chieftainess Mwenda said one investor disappeared without paying workers their salaries when he promised to pay them after selling the minerals.

“I tried to stop such activities but it was difficult for me because they had documents from the Ministry of Mines authorising them to mine. So, I don’t want to differ with government and I allowed them to continue mining,” she said.

And CCZ social and economic justice programme officer Juliet Ilunga encouraged the chieftainess to continue engaging leaders on challenges people in her chiefdom were faced with.

She said the chieftainess should ensure that when politicians went to her chiefdom for campaigns, she should remind them of challenges people were going through and make it clear that the people would not vote them if they did not address issues affecting them.

“You are not alone in the battle, even leaders of the various church organisations have heard about your problems. When they return to Lusaka, they will see senior leaders of CCZ, leaders of various organisations and even State House,” Ms Ilunga said

She said the traditional leader should encourage her subjects to begin to speak for themselves because they were the one who were affected by poverty.

“We have freedom of speech in this country, so we want the people themselves to speak out whenever they have an opportunity to meet their leaders. If we speak alone as CCZ, some people will accuse us of inciting the people to rise against the government and investors,” she said.