President Edgar Lungu says the reopened Munali Nickel Mine in Mazabuka has created 400 direct jobs for Zambians.

And President Lungu says he suspects foul play in the delayed issuance of title deeds for Munali Nickel Mine settlers in Mazabuka District of Southern Province.

Speaking when he officiated at the re-opening of Munali Nickel Mining in Mazabuka, Tuesday, President Lungu said the jobs would improve the lives of the local communities.

“The Patriotic Front government has continued to create a conducive environment aimed at transforming the Mining sector. This mine like all other mines in the country has vast economic potential which must be transformed into tangible economic benefits to trickle down to the Zambian people and the people of Mazabuka. As a government, we are aware that transforming our mineral wealth into social economic benefits requires partnership with the private sector and that is precisely what we are doing. I am aware that the re-opening of the Munali Nickel Mine has created 400 direct jobs for Zambians and there is no doubt that this will improve the lives of the local communities,” President Lungu said.

“We are optimistic that this mine will create more benefits through generation of more business opportunities for local businesses in the country. To achieve this, I urge the Mine to prioritize Zambian companies and products when it comes to procurement as well as supporting the development of local business. As a company, you have a responsibility to assist local businesses to build their capacity to thereby expanding their businesses.”

And President Lungu said he would summon the acting commissioner of lands to account for why title deeds had not yet been issued to the settlers.

“The issues of title deeds for the settlers I think we have already discussed, as I get back to Lusaka I will call upon the acting Commissioner of Lands to account for me why up to now titles have not yet been made available for the settlers to be given their deeds. And I can already suspect foul play, if it is foul play, I won’t be part of that and I will make sure I correct the situation,” President Lungu said.

He said approximately US $13 billion had been invested in the mining sector since privatization.

“Since the privatization of the mines in 2000, approximately US$13 billion has been invested in the sector. The increase in foreign direct investment, operations which were nearly closed were revived and mineral production increased. However, the investment inflows in the mining sector have only resulted in the growth of other sectors and the country’s economic diversification. The re-opening of this mine is a welcome development which demonstrates that the investment in Zambia is still conducive for the well meaning investors. For this reason, I commend Munali Nickel Mines management for the resilience and commitment to revive this first ever Nickel Mine in the country. I also wish to commend our traditional leaders and the community living around this area for the cooperation and support to this investment. Without that, what we are witnessing today could have not come to fruition. Mining has for a long time been Zambia’s key economic driver accounting for much in the foreign direct investment,” said President Lungu.

“My government is working very hard to change this scenario. To this effect, real implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), measures to enhance leakages in other sectors and to increase local private sector participation in the mineral value chain will be implemented. Our focus is on ensuring that mining contributes to the country’s economic diversification, domestic revenue generation and job creation.”