By Nation Reporter
MINING companies in Zambia must maximise training and job opportunities for local people so that they can feel the benefit, says acting permanent secretary for Mines and Mineral Development Gideon Ndalama.
Mr Ndalama said it was the Government’s responsibility to ensure that local communities benefited from mining operations through various channels that included social responsibility extended by the mining companies.
He said the Government expected all companies to operate within the confines of the law and invest in robust corporate social responsibility programmes that positively contributed to uplifting the lives of local communities.
“Government wants to see the increased participation of the local communities in decision-making accompanied with social responsibility, as an integral part of their operations, so that the communities can as well in turn provide a conducive environment for companies to operate and do their business,” he said.
Mr Ndalama was speaking in a speech read for him by director of Geological Department Mr Chipilauka Mukofu, during the launch of the fifth Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba that was hosted in Lusaka on Tuesday.
He said an Indaba organised by various stakeholders should come up with tangible, practical and viable proposals that the Government and the mining sector could explore to address the many challenges associated with mining.
And Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) secretary general Cleophas Lungu has urged the Government to undertake necessary reforms in order to enhance accountable governance in the extractive industries.
He said the Government, traditional leaders and mining companies should lead the way in promoting transparency, adding that the Government should dialogue with various players where mining projects were happening
Fr Lungu said it was high time the Government raised more mining tax revenue and invested these resources in economic infrastructure development as well as the social sectors of health and education.
“In this way, all Zambians can start to truly and sustainably benefit from their country’s resource wealth. Political leaders must also be exhorted to comply with the principle of social justice in determining the application, usage and distribution of funds,” he said.
He said the Government needed to establish mechanisms to conserve adequate revenue gleaned from mining operations for future stability, growth, unforeseen downturns and securing the lives and well-being of the current and future generations.
Fr Lungu said it was unaccepted that Zambia had a rich endowment of minerals and yet, the country was among the poorest in the world.
He appealed to relevant institutions such as ZEMA to exercise their mandate and provide information to those affected especially displaced communities as a result of mining.
He called on the investors to adopt what he called “sustainable, ethical and responsible mining”, saying Zambia needs mining companies that would respect people’s rights
“In the extractive industry, we must put people, and not money, first and mining should not dehumanise people but should instead help to uplift their human dignity and to achieve this, we shall need progressive policies and legislation to ensure greater returns from the extractive industries,” Fr Lungu said.