Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme says governement cannot order a stop to mining activities at the Black Mountain because it is part of President Edgar Lungu’s empowerment scheme for the youths.

And Chiteme says he has received five proposals from foreign companies which want to set up furniture companies in Zambia in order to process mukula locally.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Chiteme said government could not order a stop to mining activities at the Black Mountain because it was part of President Lungu’s youth empowerment scheme.

“This is not a new problem, you go into Chingola, you will find people that are mining. We have people that go to mine into Chingola, how many accidents have been reported in Chingola about the illegal miners? Before that Black Mountain which is in my constituency, before it is opened we are yet to put regulations that are going to be enforced 27/7 so that we are not going to have scavengers there. We are going to have the right people that are suppose to mine there because we cannot stop what the President has empowered the youths,” Chiteme said.

He said the “scavengers” who died after the Black Mountain collapsed last week were warned 30 minutes before the accident that it was a dangerous ground for them but they refused to heed the advice.

“A mine by nature is a dangerous business…A Mine by nature is prone to accidents and at the Black Mountain, that Chapamo company had a mining engineer that was placed there as a mining manager. And when you see [that] we have aggression and people don’t want to follow the rules and the regulations of mining because 30 minutes before, the Mine Manager told us to say they were warned to say ‘you cannot mine here because it is dangerous’ but you see the way we mine at the Blank Mountain from Kitwe, we mine with power. It’s ‘you can’t tell me anything.’ That Mine could not be in the wrong hands so to say, look, we looked for empowerment on the Copperbelt and His Excellency the President Edgar Lungu heard our cry. They gave us the black Mountain and we made sure that there was order at the Black Mountain and we made sure that the right people with the right profession were at the Black Mountain. But when you want to go in there and you want to use physical force to overcome educational force [then] there is a problem there,” Chiteme, who is also Nkana PF member of parliament, said.

Chiteme insisted that those who perished in the mine accident were scavengers.

“So 30 minutes before they were told to say ‘you can’t mine [because] the ground is not stable because like two weeks ago, we had a blast that disturbed Nkana west, that disturbed part of Wusakile and we said ‘we are not going to do any more of these blasting.’ Two weeks down the line, they go and mine in a very unsafe area. And when you look at the people that have perished in that accident, they are not the people that are actually permitted to go and mine on that Black Mountain. They are scavengers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chiteme said he had received five proposals from foreign companies wanting to set up furniture companies in Zambia in order to process the Mukula tree locally.

“A president has to work and you have seen how our President has been working and the minister have to follow. We have stopped the exportation of Mukula tree because we want to add value to the Mukula tree. As I am speaking right now, I have got five proposals on my desk about foreign companies that want to set up…from Istanbul, from Turkey, from Italy. Right now I will be going to Italy to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for a furniture shop national wide and at a larger scale [and] that is why we have said we cannot continue exporting Mukula at the expense of creating value within the country,” he said.

Chiteme said his ministry was a star ministry which was praised world over for the 7NDP.

“Right now the Ministry of National Planning is under the helm of the Office of the President. The President controls the Ministry of National Planning. You saw when the President was opening parliament, the 12th [National] Assembly, he specifically said in his speech that the Ministry of National Planning is going to be a ministry that is going to be under his office so that now we are going to coordinate as a ministry. This ministry is going to bring in synergies…Before, we had Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries working in silos, [but] what Ministry of Planning brings to the fore is coordinated efforts where ministries are not working in silos; they are working now as cluster,” he said.

“And we report to the President based on those clusters. Right now we are stars, I have been there less than a year but my ministry is a star ministry. You go world over, they are telling us that Zambia has implemented and envisioned the Seventh National Development Plan, we launched it last year in June. It’s a huge document where we are saying whatever is in the document, we need to implement it through the budget process. You are going to go World over, I was in Washington DC for the meeting, everybody was saying ‘wow, you have got such a huge plan and very good plan, how are you going to coordinate it? How are you going to implement it?”

He described President Lungu as a very magnanimous and progressive leader.

“I have worked under a very magnanimous and a very progressive President, the President that is going to look and focus. When the President is asking you questions you [to say] ‘how are you doing in your ministry to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind?’ And every time I sit back and I think therefore if I was Edgar Lungu, I was just going to lift my hand and say ‘nshaliko, teine’ (I was not there, it’s not me),” he said.

Chiteme further said that Green Climate Fund had given 50 percent of resources allocated to Africa to Zambia.

“Right now as I am sitting here chatting with you, I am a very proud minister because even as we go to our corporating partners, they understand our plan, they understand our ambitions. Right now I will tell you to say, for Climate change, for adaptation and resilience, Zambia world over in Africa has gotten 50 percent of whatever was budgeted for on our Green Climate Fund. People are listening to us, people are buying into our plan. And the Green Climate Fund gave us money to adapt, to fight our challenges of vulnerabilities. We were given 50 percent of what was meant for Africa. Zambia is not 50 percent of Africa. Right now the World Bank doesn’t even want to give us the loan, they want to give us a grant so that we can continue with the dual project. We are empowering the girl child, right now the girl child is being empowered through that project. It’s because it has got a 100 percent absorption. Edgar Lungu is changing the way we are running this country,” disclosed Chiteme.