NATONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili has charged that there are big names involved in the Mwinilunga gold scandal which been left out of the investigations and arrests.
And Kambwili has asked government to be honest about Mopani because the mining firm has not abandoned plans to place its operations on care and maintenance, a situation which will have dire consequences on the economy.
Speaking during a press briefing at his residence where he received George Sichula, a Copperbelt based PF official who ditched the ruling party to join NDC, Thursday, Kamwbili demanded that the investigations into the Mwinilunga Gold scam should bring out proper results.
“We want to see proper results from the investigations that were conducted in North Western Province. I am reliably informed that a lot of people who were involved, big fishes, have been left out of the arrests. It is only individuals that are being arrested. For once, can we please have a proper investigation over this Gold scam in North Western Province? And don’t give us this rhetoric. We have seen already that some people, just after appearing in court twice; [a] nolle prosequi is entered. I hope we are not going to experience this on the gold scandal. You want to show the people of Zambia that you are talking action against individuals that are close to the powers that be, then you go and enter a nolle prosequi. But anyway, the goodness is that a nolle prosequi is not a discharge, so when we come into power, some of these cases will be restarted until justice for the people of Zambia is served,” Kambwili said.
“We are reliably informed that when this director who was co-accused with some politically exposed person applied to be a state witness, the government became jittery because they knew that some big people were going to be mentioned who were part of that scandal. I am also reliably informed that it is was actually USD $3 million that was involved in that scam. And because some people were going to be mentioned by that Lebanese director if he became a state witness, they decided to enter a nolle.”
Kambwili suggested that the mining license for the Gold Mine in Mwinilunga should be given to ZCCM Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) to enable all Zambians all benefit from it.
“As much as we want industries to be in the hands of Zambians, it is disturbing that the current government only wants things to go to PF cadres, PF ministers and PF sympathizers. Under normal circumstances, we would have recommended that the gold mining in Mwinilunga should be divided into artisan mining licenses to give as many Zambian small scale miners as possible. But the danger is that if we allow this, the PF is going to abuse this just like they have abused the Black Mountain on the Copperbelt and the Gold Mine in Eastern Province where only PF cadres and sympathizers have been given licences,” Kambwili said.
“Our recommendation on the Gold Mine in North Western Province is that the mining license should be given to ZCCM Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) so that all Zambians can benefit. The reason we are saying this is because when ZCCM-IH makes a profit, it will declare the profit to government and government will use that money on social services; running the schools, running hospitals and other services from which every Zambian is going to benefit. But if you give artisanal licences, they will be given to PF cadres, who when they make money, they will buy posh cars and show off and all the people of Zambia will not benefit from that.”
Meanwhile, Kambwili demanded that government gives a true position on the status of its discussions with Mopani Copper Mines.
“The country has been made to believe that the issues at Mopani have been resolved. To the contrary, the letter that Mopani has issued to both the employees and contractors do not speak to that effect. In the letters, the company has informed the employees and contractors that ‘you have been reinstated back for the next 90 days’. After 90 days ending on 31st July, the company will proceed on care and maintenance. Equally, the contractors have been written to that they should report back and commence production and that Mopani has only moved the date of termination of contracts from 29th of April to 31st July. Meaning that 1st August, all contractors must demobilize and move out of site,” Kambwili said.
“Now, why has government been economical with the truth? What we have been told as a country is that the issue of Mopani going on care and maintenance has been resolved. But to the contrary, the letters are saying something else. Can the Minister of Mines and the President give us the position on Mopani? I have said and I want to say it again, Mopani going on care and maintenance will have adverse effects on the economy of this country, particularly on foreign exchange, forex earnings will be affected because 70 percent of our foreign exchange earning comes from the sale of copper and Mopani is an integral part of that gain. I can foresee a situation if Mopani is allowed to go on care and maintenance, the rate of a Kwacha to a Dollar will reach K30 because we will have very little forex on the market. So can the government through the Ministry of Mines tell us what their position on Mopani is?”
Kambwili said the only reason Mopani agreed to rescind its decision to place the mine on care and maintenance was to meet the legal requirement for a three-month notice before ceasing operations.
“My thinking is that Mopani rescinded its decision to go on care and maintenance just to fulfil the requirement of the law which says that you should give three-month notice and obviously that is the only thing that has been resolved. Now the Ministry of Mines has been telling us that the issue at Mopani has been resolved, but I want to tell the people on the Copperbelt that Mopani is determined to go on care and maintenance and this will be sad for the miners because they will be thrown into abject poverty. So government please, can you for once tell us the truth,” demanded Kambwili.