The Tonga Traditional Association has asked the government to revoke the mining Licence awarded to Mwembeshi Resources a subsidiary of the Zambezi Resources of Australia to start a large-scale open pit mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park as it will interfere with the environment culture, tradition and heritage for the people of Southern Province, says association president Dickson Namanza.
Namanza said that the decision by the Minister of Lands and Environmental Protection, Harry Kalaba to allow mining was irrational and it lacked consultation with various stakeholders who among them included the traditional leadership in the area.
Namanza said that as a traditionalist, his association was worried and concerned at the speed government was running to deplete the world’s heritage.
“We are concerned as people from Southern Province about the manoeuvre by the Minister of Lands Harry Kalaba to issue a mining licence in a National Park. We are wondering in whose interest they are issuing the licence? We ask this government to revoke the licence because it is not in the best interest of the people of Southern Province and Zambia in general,” Namanza said.
He said that it was shocking that government was insisting on starting a mine in the national park at the expense of a thriving wildlife.
“The Lower Zambezi National Park is our pride as Zambians, it is our pride as the people of Southern Province and we see no reason why government should allow people to mine in this area. There should be no displacement of animals in that national park.
Why can’t government ask the same investors to go to Munali Nickel mine in Mazabuka and continue with the mining project there rather than to start a new mine in the national park? We don’t want any further displacement of human beings and animals,” said Namanza.
He said that his association and traditional leaders in the region have protested the move, as it lacked support from the locals adding that politicians should learn to consult the locals, on matters of development.
“This is another fallen project by the PF; we shall not support it as it will destroy our tradition. That national park has a true meaning for the people of Southern Province and Western Zambia. We cannot compromise with our tradition. Let them go elsewhere with their money. We don’t need it,” said Namanza.
Kalaba through his Permanent Secretary Inutu Suba said that he had the mandate to indicate to the public the government’s decision on the award of the licence to Mwembeshi Resources, a subsidiary of the Zambezi Resources of Australia, for the large-scale mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Kalaba also said that his ministry was in-charge of the Zambia Environmental Management Act No.12 of 2012 the law under which Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) falls saying that the decision by the agency could be reviewed by his ministry.
“My ministry is in charge of, among other things, overseeing the functions of the Zambia Environmental Management Act No.12 of 2012. Consequently, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) being the body assigned with execution of the provisions of that Act falls within the jurisdiction of my ministry. “The decision made by ZEMA is subject under that Act, to review, referral and supervision by the minister,” he said.