Alliance for Community Action executive director Laura Miti says President Edgar Lungu should fire Mines Minister Richard Musukwa for calling Black Mountain victims scavengers and for declaring the dump site safe.

On Thursday, Musukwa told Parliament that he would not resign over the Black Mountain collapse which claimed 10 lives and injured 17 saying they were scavengers who were not licensed to be on site.

“The accident that we are considering, as you know government gave a license to seven companies. The people involved in the accident were scavengers. [They] were people that had entered the mine site illegally,” said Musukwa.

“If criminals or illegal people invade a mine site like they did at the Black mountain, surely that is not a good cause for me to resign. I’m not resigning. I’m going to ensure that this matter, the unfortunate circumstance that has happened is never repeated by ensuring that our people comply with the mines and minerals act.”

But in an interview, Miti said Musukwa’s response was unfortunate and showed how disrespectful government was to the poor.

“The mines minister’s response shows the extent of impunity and how out of touch this government is entirely. And also the disrespect they have for the poor, the poor lives don’t matter, they are just there to be bribed, to be manipulated. I think its one of the most unfortunate statement that has ever been made by a sitting minister in this country,” Miti said.

She said Musukwa owed the nation an apology.

“It’s an extremely tragic statement to come out of a sitting minister especially considering that he is the one who had said just a few days before that the Black Mountain was safe. So he owes the nation an apology, he owes the families of the dead an apology. And instead of apologizing, he stands up and arrogantly calls them scavengers and says that he cannot resign. So this shows a lot of impunity, it shows the level in which this government feels that it does not owe anyone any explanation, that it can survive without whatever anybody says about them,” Miti said.

She asked President Lungu to fire Musukwa for calling the victims scavengers.

“So you would expect that the President would call the minister to order and fire him. Fire him not only because of what he said but because he was responsible for the safety of that mountain and he had declared that it was absolutely safe. So it’s not entirely surprising what the minister said, it just shows what kind of government we have in place,” said Miti.