Ex-Kabwe miners stranded in row over ‘free’ plots


MINERS who were given plots by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings in Kabwe by  in 2013 on ‘‘humanitarian grounds’’ have not started construction works on their pieces of land because the district council is allegedly demanding K2,500 from each of them as survey fees.

And last week members of the group, which consists of sitting tenants of ZCCM-IH houses, received documents from the Ministry of Lands demanding an additional payment of K3,500 form each of the 54 beneficiaries in order for it to process the certificates of title for the plots.

Group chairperson Evaristo Mwenya told the Daily Nation yesterday that things were ‘‘moving from bad to worse’’ and the affected people have been left in limbo following these developments, leaving their pieces of land dormant for three years.

Mr. Mwenya said the former miners felt abandoned following the predicament that had befallen them as they had nowhere to go to present their grievances since the ministry, which they were banking on for help, had also come up with extra charges.

He said it was now clear that the plots were not given to them free since the former miners would now incur all the costs that Government waved at the time it gave them the pieces of land to build houses.

He explained that when the group presented the issue to the council to explain what the charges were, the council failed to give them an answer.

“The council has failed to give us a proper explanation on why we should be paying this money. During one of the Plans and Works Department (PWD) meeting, we were told that the money each of us was supposed to pay was for stationery and other expenses but they failed to elaborate. Now they are telling us it is for surveying. They are saying we need to pay for the beacons that were put on the plots.

“As if that was not enough, last week we received a document from the Ministry of Lands called “Invitation to treat” which says each one of us should sign and pay K3,500 for them to process the certificates of title for each plot and it expires on November 26, 2016.

‘‘But the question is, why are we paying for all this? If we pay these amounts, then it means these plots were sold to us and not given for free because that comes to the total cost of a plot in Kabwe,” Mr. Mwenya said.

He wondered where the council and the ministry expected the former employees to get the money to pay for the plots when the 54 families stopped work a long time ago and the Government had promised to help them.

“So far, we only have offer letters from the council and none of us will risk building on our plots until we are sure that everything has been done otherwise we may just waste money and later find ourselves in situations that will make us pay more. We are just retirees who left employment a long time ago and incurring extra costs after fighting so hard for Government to hear us is just a non-starter,” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from the council proved futile.  In 2013, Government gave out plots to the former ZCCM-IH miners and sitting tenants to build homes after wrangles and court cases on who owned the houses they were living in after the collapse of the mining company.