COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia General Secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says it is unfortunate that for a long time, Zambians have begged for corporate crumbs when resources generated from mines are owned by them.
Fr Chikoya said CCZ wanted to ensure that rights and interests of inhabitants in mining areas such as Lusangazi District were recognised and respected with interest in natural resource governance.
He was speaking in Lusangazi Distrct on Monday when Church leaders from CCZ who are in Eastern Province visited Beka Zulu Lime mine in Lusangazi district.
On Monday, the Church leaders spent the whole day in Lusangazi, 65 kilometres from Petauke Central Business District for a meeting with local Clergy from BIGOCA, Pentecostal Assemblies of God, New Apostolic Church and other non CCZ member denominations.
The aim of the meeting was to appreciate the challenges locals were facing in the Lusangazi area which has two mines – a gold mine and a lime mine. The area also boasts of very fertile soil conducive for agriculture.
Fr Chikoya said CCZ wanted to see local people empowered with the necessary knowledge in order for them start engaging relevant authorities on issues affecting their everyday livelihoods.
And CCZ Social and Economic Justice Programme Officer Andisen Zulu said Church leaders from Lusaka are visiting the area to identify community challenges for their understanding.
He noted that there was a very big inequality gap in Zambia, meaning that very few people are enjoying national resources, mainly politicians, leaving the majority with nothing.
He said CCZ’s desire is to see that resources are shared equally among all citizens.
And speaking when he presented the challenges facing the locals in the area, Pastor Duncan Mzyece told the Clergy from Lusaka that 200 workers at Beka Zulu mine were still on causal basis despite having worked for two years.
Pastor Mzyeche also mentioned that among other challenges were bad roads, lack of access to clean water, lack of school infrastructure and basic necessities such as desks.
He further informed the clergy that there had been Chieftaincy wrangles for over 10 years, rendering the area unstable for development.
Pastor Mzyece also bemoaned the absence of the area Member of Parliament (for Msanzala Constituency).
And speaking during question and answer session, local Clergy raised a concern that should there be more than one mineral in a mine, licences to mine every and each mineral must be obtained from relevant authorities, unlike mining all minerals using just one licence.
They also requested CCZ to speak for them on the need to construct teachers’ houses at some schools in the area.
The clergy further requested CCZ to lobby for better health services and a conducive environment for health workers in order to keep them motivated.
And responding to concerns and challenges raised by the local Clergy, Lusangazi Council Chairperson William Banda said the Council was aware of the challenges workers at Lusangazi mines were facing.
Banda assured the locals that the Beka Zulu lime mine had started compensating displaced families and had so far compensated five families with K30,000 each.
He said the rest of the families would be compensated in due course when resources were available.
Banda also assured the locals that the mine had further pledged to sink 30 boreholes in the area and buy the Council a grader that would help to grade feeder roads in the area.
He said these pledges were made a fortnight ago.
The Council Chairperson also informed the Clergy that the other mine, gold mine, pledged to buy 200 pockets of cement for construction works at the proposed site for District Offices.
He said it was government’s desire to see that the resources in Lusangazi were shared with all inhabitants in the area.