Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba has thanked founding president Dr Kenneth Kaunda for opposing the mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park and has urged him to continue speaking out on serious national issues affecting the people.
And Sinkamba has warned the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) to stop taking short-cuts with the law over the proposed mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
In an interview, Sinkamba hailed Dr Kaunda’s stance in speaking out against the controversial mining project.
“First of all, as the Green Party, we are very happy that the First Republican President Dr Kaunda has also supported the view that we need to ensure that we sustainably manage our ecological zones like national parks and, in particular, we are happy that he supported the view that there should not be any mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park. We are excited with that,”he said.
“Whilst we appreciate that he has come out on this particular issue because this one is an inter-generational issue, we think that indeed he should only come in to counsel us on very critical matters like this one, otherwise, he may be misconstrued as coming back into politics. You know, sometimes, when someone makes certain comments in good faith, there is a tendency among politicians to try and twist the facts and then start calling him like he is now again engaged in politics. So, as Green Party, we feel he should not be too much in certain petty issues, which we can solve on our own, but only come in on matters, which are grave and require counsel where all of us will be able to listen because when the founding father speaks, we must all listen and abide by what he has indicated because we are lucky that we still have him around. Other countries don’t, you see how in South Africa, today, they miss their founding father Mandela, we are lucky we still have Dr Kaunda here and we should always take his counsel seriously and do things in a manner, which will befit his office,” said Sinkamba.
Meanwhile Sinkamba charged that ZEMA was bending the rules on the Lower Zambezi National Park issue.
“Of course, we know there have been manoeuvres to try and short-cut or by-pass the law. You know, you will recall we did make a statement that after the High Court judgement or ruling, this ruling has come five years after the decision was made, and according to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation of 1997 under SI Number 28, the law states that any EIA or Environmental Impact Assessment Report is only valid for three years if there is no activity which has taken place. In this instance, since there was no mining taking place in the five years, it means that the report on which basis the decision was made, expired in January, 2017,” he observed.
He maintained that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the proposed mining project projected to commence in the Lower Zambezi National park had expired, and that Zambezi Resources Plc, the Australian mining company in question, should restart the process.
“So, we understand that ZEMA is trying to bend the laws by stating that when the matter went to court then, time also was halted for running of the impact assessment period, which is not the case because there is no law like that. The environmental impact regulation does not stop the time because environmental assessments are based on the particular time. Things like climate change, they don’t come to a standstill because the matter is in court and the environmental conditions don’t come to a halt because the matter is in court. So, the statement which we hear, or the route which we hear our colleagues at ZEMA are trying to take, that will be very dangerous if they want to bend the law. The fact is that (the) EIA has expired and the developer must start afresh the process of going back to go and start conducting an assessment and submit the reports afresh to the Mine Safety Department at ZEMA, that is the law, and they need to follow that,” Sinkamba said.