COPPERBELT traditional leaders yesterday chronicled their problems with senior Chief Nkana breaking down before President Edgar Lungu when pleading with the Head of State to immediately resolve the wrangles between his chiefdom and an Indian company over the mining of emeralds.
And President Lungu has warned that some of the proposed clauses in the draft Constitution were poisonous and toxic and Zambians should be careful before being duped into rushing into enacting the new Constitution before resolving contentious issues.
Senior Chief Nkana openly wept while narrating his ordeal of how Kagem Mine, the Indian owned company, allegedly grabbed his mining area and forcibly demobilised his mining equipment before dragging him to court. President Lungu yesterday met 15 Copperbelt based traditional leadership in Ndola and Chief Nkana took the opportunity to emotionally complain about how the owners of Kagem Mine were allegedly mistreating him and his subjects in his own land. The traditional leader complained that his chiefdom had not been benefiting from its natural resources since the end of the era of the colonial days and that he was distressed that some Indian firm had been allowed to continue mining at the expense of the local people.
Chief Nkana who kept on addressing the President as Nkana appealed to the Head of State to help resolve the matter so that his mine could be given back to him to allow him and his company resume mining of emeralds.
“Since the end of the era of colonial days, we have never had our economic liberties as our natural resources are being exploited by foreigners only. Mr President, As I speak to you, Kagem Mine has grabbed my piece of land where I was mining and have even demobilised the mining equipment. When are we going to be respected and recognised as custodians of traditional land. In some areas in my chiefdom, the subjects are restricted from collecting mushroom or even using the road…please Mr President, help us,” Chief Nkana said between sobs.
And speaking on behalf of the Lamba chiefs, senior chief Chiwala said while the traditional leadership on the Copperbelt was happy with the election of Mr Lungu as President, they were saddened by the inability by successive governments to fully address the mirage of social and economic problems.
He said Copperbelt rural had continued to lag in development despite the leadership having petitioned successive government on the need to pay attention to the challenges the region was facing.
Chief Chiwala said it was the hope of the traditional leadership in the region that President Lungu, being a product of the copper-rich region would be able to address their social and economic problems that had been ignored by his successors.
“You are a product of the Copperbelt and you are part and parcel of us. You know and understand the social and economic challenges we are facing. The road infrastructure is non-existent as we have been condemned to using colonial roads. We have over the years complained to successive government and no one has listened. You are a humble leader and have said you will always live by the truth, please build us roads and schools if we have to feel we are part of this government,” Chief Chiwala said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has cautioned against rushing the enactment of the new Constitution through a referendum stating that some of the proposed clauses were not only dangerous for the democracy of the country but were poisonous and toxic.
The Head of State said some sections of society were accusing him of hiding the Constitution but that his fear was that there was a danger of the country having yet another faulty Constitution that would not be able to fully meet the expectations of the majority of Zambians.
President Lungu also took time to warn the traditional leaders the dangers of tribalism cautioning that it was against the spirit of unity and the maxim of one Zambia one nation for the traditional leaders to ask him to make appointments on tribal lines.
The President said in making his appointments, he had been looking for quality and not tribe and that if the region had a Member of Parliament who was incompetent, it would wrong for him to consider him for a job because he did not want to fail Zambians in his short presidency.