The Center for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) says it is impressed with progress made by Solwezi Natural Resource Watch Group (NRWG) in ensuring that local communities benefit from mineral revenues.

CTPD economic governance programmes assistant Kangwa Muyunda told a NRWG in Solwezi, during a ‘capacity needs assessment’ workshop on mineral revenue sharing mechanisms recently, that local communities needed to participate in management of natural resources.

She commended the Solwezi NRWG for pushing for a by-law which would enable the local authority in that area to give back 10 per cent of all revenues collected from the mining companies to the hosting communities.

“For us we feel that the local communities should have a say in the management of natural resource revenues and therefore this 10 per cent that this group has advocated for will eventually enable them to begin to understand the contributions that this sector makes and to also hold their government accountable as to how this money is being used to benefit communities that are hosting these mining companies. They will actually get to know how much the mining companies are contributing to the national treasury,” Muyunda said.

“There has been a huge gap previously in terms of the exact contribution from mining and so some stakeholders like communities themselves felt like there was no benefit at all from the mines but through the mineral revenue sharing mechanism, we are able to know for example like how much exactly is Kansanshi mines is paying to the local authority and how much it is paying to the national treasury because Kansanshi makes payment to both the national treasury and local community.”

Muyunda said it was devastating to see how communities in mining areas were suffering.

“It is devastating to see how host communities for the mining areas are suffering, especially when you look at how the mining sector was being run at the time of ZCCM. At that time before the mines were privatized, mining companies used to provide a lot of things for the communities, the roads were done by the mines, even some students were sponsored by the mines and this is what communities expect from the mines. Now that mining companies have been privatized, they are now privately owned by investors who pay to the central government, the central government therefore needs to come up with an efficient way through which that tax will be equitably distributed through all corners of the country,” said Muyunda.

And Solwezi NRWG chairperson Kennedy Tebulu, said the by-law would be adopted as soon as the new Mayor settled down.

“With help from civil society organisations like the Center for Trade Policy and Development, councils have been convinced that we really deserve to get that 10 per cent from our revenue collection and they told us that it would be implemented soon. But that hasn’t happened physically, it is just on paper for now and that’s why we have been following it up. Unfortunately, there was change of government at mayoral level and last time we went to see the Mayor, he said he was a new person in office and therefore he wanted time for him to go through the paper work and then he could give us the feedback and that is what we are waiting for,” Tebulu said.

Tebulo hailed CTPD for the knowledge it shared with communities on mineral revenue sharing.

“We have learned a lot of things starting from where the money comes from and how it is spent. You see, that is something we didn’t know. Now by knowing that the companies within our area gives us so much, it is important that we know how our local councilors spends that money, so actually that is an eye opener to our community because from now onwards we know what to do and where to go in terms of claiming what belongs to us and maybe even to push for other things,” Tebulo said.

He promised that all revenues from the mines would be spent on developing the community once the by-law was implemented.

“The 10 percent revenue collection is meant for the communities of the entire Solwezi District because they are a number of communities around the mine and so when that 10 percent is made available, it will be shared among us and it will go for developmental purposes like if maybe we need a clinic in our community, then that money would go towards that project and if we need a school, then the money goes to that project just like that,” said Tebulo.