A VIDEO in which UPND deputy national youth chairman Stephen Chikota is harassing police officers and seeking to gain entry into a mining area in Muombe, Chembe district, alleging that the miner had no documentation to mine sugilite has gone viral.
But Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe says it is unfortunate that such behaviour is coming from UPND cadres.
Meanwhile, UPND Secretary General Batuke Imenda says police in Luapula are holding Chikota and those he was with when harassing police officers.
In the video, Chikota accused police officers of protecting foreigners who were “stealing”.
“Under any law under the land, especially Zambia exploration licence never included the sigulite, therefore, they cannot bring machinery at the exploring site. But now, in which capacity I am here, for your own information, you swear to the Republican President, I also [sweared] when he appointed me. So where you report, I don’t report to the commanding officer, I only report to the Republican President, who is the party President. So, questioning my capacity why I am here, I think now you are taking us for granted. And for me when I was campaigning, I campaigned to protect the community and the Zambians not the foreigners. Therefore, I am not going to allow where a Zambian steals, you arrest, a foreigner steals, you even give them state security. What you are doing? You are protecting a foreigner who is mining using taxpayers money,” Chikota said.
“I am not going to allow this so long as I am still the deputy national youth chairman of the party and National Management Committee member. I am not going to allow you, mule lokwa nenfula mule protecta ama foreigners (you are even getting soaked while protecting the foreigners). Just because you are getting peanuts, can we fail to give you peanuts if you allow us to steal? Why are you protecting a foreigner stealing in our own country? Zambia will never be the same.”
Chikota said he didn’t mind losing his appointment because of trying to stop police from protecting “criminals”.
“And you guys have continued to frustrate our efforts. In the opposition you were beating us the way you are doing, you protected the PF but now we are in government, you are protecting the foreigners. I am telling you that heads will roll and there is media here, it will be on Prime TV, it will be everywhere. The heads are going to roll, it is either I lose my appointment or you lose your jobs by protecting criminals. [Because some of the ministers…because they are serving because of these people, they have bribed their way to bribe],” said Chikota.
“These some of the ministers may be safe but I can tell you, we have a list of those criminal ministers of which we are not going to allow as a party. You have read our manifesto, so Sir, what we need to do is to just see what is on the site. I have a capacity to organise 200 trucks here more than even the police service, I don’t want to go that way. Can you allow me to go to the site, I see what is happening on the site if there is machinery that has come today. Those machines should come out until we finish the business outside the mine.”
But in an interview, Kabuswe said as far as government was concerned, the mine had a valid exploration licence.
“The only government ministry that is mandated to check the legality or illegality of any mine is the Ministry of Mines. As far as the ministry is concerned through our investigations, that mine has a valid exploration licence. We have sent our officers, by the time they were talking, it is not even a reaction, we already had ears on the ground of certain happenings, maybe a breach on the licence because when you have an exploration licence. You cannot mine, you can only explore. And the only person who can know whether this person is mining or doing exploration is the Ministry of Mines. And when you are sitting on an exploration licence and you are mining, you are in breach of the licence and that establishment has not been done by our officials who are already on the ground to check what is happening,” Kabuswe said.
He said it was unfortunate that such behaviour was coming from UPND cadres.
“The UPND government under His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema have said this is the government of laws and no cadre has the mandate to invade a mine, to even determine the legality or illegality of anything. This government is methodical, it is not a chipantepante government. So all those are wild allegations which have not been proven. It is unfortunate that it is coming from our own cadres within the party because the President has clearly said government will be run by systems. This government will not tolerate cadreism around any industry,” said Kabuswe.
“So, we are yet to determine and this exercise is ongoing, we are just four months old and Zambia is big so we keep on checking anyone who is in breach of licence. It is unfortunate that certain people want to invade the mine and that is the message we wouldn’t want to send to the international communities that Zambians are invading mines or cadres are invading mines.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Imenda said the party was discussing Chikota’s issue internally for now.
Imenda, however, said the matter was in the hands of the police.
“The matter is in the hands of the police. I was being briefed by Luapula that they have picked him with the people that were with him. You were asking if we allow that, no we do not allow. The position that the President gave to the country is solid and straightforward. The matter for us as a party will be discussed internally, it is not for public consumption yet. Yes, we saw the video, we want to find out under what circumstances that action was taken. Until we have established the facts of the matter, then we will come back to you and give you full details,” said Imenda.
“For now, the people that can give you full details are the police who are holding on to him. He is in the police cells. We will look into the matter internally. So far, he is in the hands of the police. I have not had time to talk to him and find out what really happened. So, I cannot judge someone before he could be there to even defend himself.”
And when contacted, Luapula Province commanding officer Sharon Zulu said “call me tomorrow, I will give you full details.”