The recent Human Rights Watch report exposes a disaster that has for so many years been hidden from the attention of the public. This is a disaster that the government is very much aware of but has decided to underplay its urgency probably because the affected lives are of the poor people’s children. This is an urgent matter that deserves urgent attention by the central government and the local authorities. Lead is a poisonous metal, and it is in the soil and the dust in poor neighborhoods of Kabwe near the old mine.
Thousands of children and their families are living in lead-affected areas. Lead can affect children’s minds and bodies. It can hurt their performance in school. It can permanently alter their futures, closing doors that should have been open for them. Therefore, anyone who believes in the future of this country must get concerned and act now to save the lives of these poor children. We cannot delay anymore. Every second lost can be too costly for the affected people and the country itself.
The mining that ended 25 years ago in Kabwe is still affecting the lives of children—children who were born long after the mine closed. How are we not interested in the health of these children in Kabwe? Is it because the lives involved are of poor children? How bad should it get for the government to respond appropriately? The government continues to say they will work to clean up the lead whilst the innocent children’s lives are exposed to this poisoning daily. Has the government of Zambia failed to protect the lives of the poor people of Kabwe? If the kids involved were ministers’ children or presidents’ children, Kabwe would have received attention a long time ago, and the issue would have been addressed but because these are kids who are less powerful and too poor to deserve the attention of their elected leaders, the situation has been allowed to go on for too long. We have chosen silence over saving the lives of people.
My appeal to the government of Zambia is, secure the future of this country by saving the lives of its children. Children’s lives matter. These children are the citizens of the future, if we refuse to act in their interest today, we are refusing to act in the interest of our own future tomorrow. This report deserves urgent attention. The government of Zambia should address the issue urgently. We should all be bothered.