COPPERBELT Province Minister Elisha Matambo says the riots which broke out at the Black Mountain last week were caused by a “small clique” of individuals who wanted to solely benefit from it.

In an interview, Friday, Matambo said the people who used to benefit from the mine in the past were not happy that government had given it to the community.

“Basically what I can tell you is that from what I have gathered, the people who used to enjoy from that thing were just a small group of people, who are now not happy that it has been given to a lot of people to benefit. So, I think it is coming from those, because they thought that they were going to continue benefiting. But it has been given to the community, it has been given to cooperatives in different districts, it has been given to the women in mining. It has been given to even chiefs, the Lamba chiefs, the owners of the Lamba land, they are also beneficiaries. So I think that clique which used to enjoy from that, they are the ones who are trying to bring confusion,” he said.

“I am sure that you saw the PS the other day, sat down with the security wings and I think the situation as of yesterday in the afternoon came back to normal. Because what I was told is that those who get chrome, the chrome pickers, the trucks will be tipping away from the mountain, that is where some trucks will be tipping. So chrome pickers can start getting from those points, that was what the arrangement was. I think yesterday the situation was calm.”

He said government would not allow anyone to hijack the empowerment plan set by President Hakainde Hichilema.

“His Excellency the President, Hakainde Hichilema wanted to empower people from all different walks of life and they are very happy, because a lot of people will benefit from that arrangement. We are not going to allow a situation where a small team would want to hijack the empowerment which His Excellency has given to people in the whole province, including chiefs. So I think we will not tolerate that. I think you saw my counterpart the Ministry of Mines saying the same, that is our stance. We will make sure that the people who are supposed to benefit, benefit,” said Matambo.

“When we were handing it over with my counterpart, even His Excellency [President Hichilema], if you see the way that thing had been structured by the consortium and everybody, we are not looking at the face, even the PF themselves are in there. There is no political party attached to that. I want to emphasise that UPND are also citizens, UPND are also citizens who are also supposed to benefit. So we are not looking at the face, every Zambian, the qualification is to be a Zambian. Anyone can put up a cooperative, take it to the District Commissioner in Kitwe and they will access some funds from there. So qualification to benefit from that mountain is just to be a Zambian, that is the qualification.”