Some PF Jerabos (small scale miners) have charged that Minister of National Planning Alexander Chiteme and his Sports counterpart Emmanuel Mulenga have taken over the Black Mountain, disadvantaging unemployed youths.

But Chiteme and Mulenga have dispelled the claims, describing the youths as hired voices.

Meanwhile, PF national Youth chairman Kelvin Sampa has advised the youths to focus on sustainable projects instead of focussing on the Black Mountain.

In some voice notes circulated on some social media platforms, one of the youths, Venny Musonda, charged that Chiteme and Mulenga, who are also members of parliament for Nkana and Ndola Central constituencies, respectively, were standing in the way of youth projects at the mountain.

“It’s surprising how ministers have taken over all the youth businesses. They have taken over all our businesses and yet they are not giving us any empowerment. We are just surviving on our own because ministers are now doing our businesses. Black Mountain wants to create another problem. For decades now, that mountain has been a youth business. But ministers want to be beneficiaries of that youth empowerment project. They want to raise money for campaigns. They just heard that Black Mountain is happening and they rushed there. They banned the export of Mukula tree but they are busy exporting it,” Musonda said.

“So what are we going to do as youths? You have personalized your offices and now you want to start witchcraft over Mukula and Black Mountain. Tell us what some of us who don’t hold positions in government will do now? We are also members of PF but we don’t have jobs. What business can we do? We used to import things but taxes right now are something else and we have stopped. They have finished all the land and have even shared the bushes. God will punish you.”

When contacted to elaborate his complaint, Musonda insisted that the two ministers should leave the site.

“Ever since that dump 68 was given out, it’s been authorized that the youths can do the mining but apparently, two ministers that’s, Honourable [Alexander] Chiteme and Easy Mining, that’s Emmanuel Mulenga, are the ones that want to be loading instead of giving it to the youths, even when they have been given jobs by the President. Every time we engage them, they say something else but when it comes to action, they do something that is totally different. There was even a video where we had to dispatch some of the youths that are on the Copperbelt to chase their trucks. So there is basically nothing that we can engage with them anymore,” said Musonda.

Another youth also posted a voice note, urging the ministers to be satisfied with the wealth they had.

“Now Chiteme and Easy Mining, what is that noise you are creating on the Copperbelt again? You have gone ahead to start loading your trucks at the Black Mountain. Even if it’s the love of money really, you have been given a ministerial position, why can’t you leave the youths to work there. Look, some officers from Kanfinsa have started coming at the site to scare us. Surely, is there need to start recording deaths amongst ourselves again? If it’s you Mulenga, you were just given a ministerial job recently, you just feel good to be insulted. You Chiteme too, why do you like money so much? Didn’t you make enough money at AC mining? That noise you have started causing at dump 68, are you going to manage to quench it?” he asked.

And a female youth said the PF was painting its own image “black” by allowing illegalities take a centre stage.

“The masses who vote for us will have a very bad picture. Surely, we can’t even engage with these people properly but have to use social media. All those trucks have gone to load at the dump 68 and people will just be saying that ‘this is a government of thieves.’ Anyway, we have finished this party. We are the ones that display the in-house theft to the opposition. So now, they are gaining mileage and yet it’s us giving them that leeway. What are we doing to our party in government honestly speaking? Anyway that’s my opinion. It seems now this government is only a government of thieves,” she said.

But contacted, Mulenga wondered why the youths were accusing him of standing in their way when he was not minister responsible for mines.

“I don’t know what they are talking about. So how are we standing in their way when we are not in charge of the Ministry of Mines?” asked Mulenga.

And Chiteme said the youths were just hired voices.

“That’s a fake story. There is nothing like that. Those are sponsored voices,” said Chiteme.

Meanwhile, Sampa who met the Jerabos at his residence in Lusaka last week, urged them to focus on sustainable projects.

According to a statement issued by the PF National Youth League information and publicity desk, provincial Minister Japhen Mwakalombe, who co-chaired the meeting, promised the Jerabos that they would be allowed to start operations at the Black Mountain this week.