PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says government is establishing an investment environment in the mining sector that will be transparent and intolerant to corruption.

And President Hichilema says there should be no excuse for leaders to enhance development.

Meanwhile, President Hichilema says there is need for closer collaboration for countries in the Southern Region in order to invest in the railway system.

Speaking during the 2022 African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, President Hichilema said government was determined and would not allow any hurdles in achieving its ambitions in the mining sector.

“I wish to share with you our vision for the new dawn for Zambia’s mining sector. Since coming into office, our party came into office eight months ago, our government has been determined and focused on efforts to revive the Zambian economy. Our economy is anchored by the mining sector which historically has been a major contributor to our development. We undoubtedly believe in its potential to be even a greater contributor to our economy. We are committed to building a resilient, sustainable mining industry anchored on environmental social and indeed governance standards and best practice. This is a bare minimum if we were to do it correctly. Our determination towards industrialisation, obviously job creation, business opportunities is very clear. For those who have been following us, we are very determined and we will not allow anything to stand in the way of clearing all hurdles that will allow investment, especially in the mining sector. We are open for business. We are open to engage and partner with all of you here,” he said.

“As you are aware, Zambia is a key player in the global copper mining industry and is home to vast reserves of copper, cobalt and other minerals. We are addressing factors that constrain investment and putting in place factors that catalyse this investment. Our investment environment will undoubtedly be transparent, consistent, predictable, fair and something many African leaders don’t want to talk about and I talk about it with pleasure, intolerance to corruption.”

He said government wanted to root out endemic corruption that existed in the past with regards to issuance of mining licenses.

“To ensure transparency in the administration and issuance of mining rights, we imposed a moratorium on issuance of mining rights to facilitate for a comprehensive audit of mining rights administration systems. Only for a short time, to clean it up. We inherited system practices that were unhealthy, so for the mining investors we are doing this only for a short while to clean up the system and we will be happy once we open the mining licenses. One of the things we want to root out is just endemic corruption around the mineral resources and that does not help anyone. It will open very soon. We are now working towards operationalization of the online payment portal to promote efficiency and integrity in the administration system of mining rights,” President Hichilema.

President Hichilema said work was not about working from 08:00 hours to 17:00 hours but about what was delivered.

“Momentum is increasing towards mineral production as new mining operations are opening. I have said to my colleagues in Cabinet that work is not 08:00 hours to 17:00 hours, work is deliverables, what we deliver for over what period of time, that is the way we are looking at it. We are building strategic partnerships that will help position Zambia for future prosperity, in the context of Africa. There is no way Zambia can talk of prosperity in isolation to Africa’s prosperity,” President Hichilema said.

President Hichilema said there should be no excuses by leaders in enhancing development because the people deserved better.

“We in Zambia have taken a decision, a very strong one that we are tired of talking about Africa’s potential. We don’t want to hear someone in our country, hopefully on the continent, sing the song of potential, we want to realise that, we want to realise that potential to drive development to alleviate poverty amongst ourselves. There should be no excuses from us, especially us the African leaders, we should not hide in argument, we must just get the job done, our people deserve better from us as leaders, we were elected to do just that,” President Hichilema said.

“The development of supporting infrastructure, including in areas such as power, all of us on this continent should not accept the fact that we don’t have sufficient power to drive our mining sector. We do have, we just have not been doing the work that we were elected to do and now is the time to do that. So power, logistics and transports, indeed communications, significant investment obviously in the areas of research, technology amongst others, also remains critical to our development agenda. Our continent is endowed with vast mineral resources that largely remain undiscovered because we are not investing in exploration and even when they are discovered, they are not exploited.”

Meanwhile, President Hichilema said Zambia needed to work with South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Congo DRC among others to fix the railway system.

“We are building institutional capacity to facilitate increasing processing for various mineral commodities. The reason is clear but we are challenged, railways, roads. This is another important area where we believe that as mining investors, we must take interest to share ideas on how we can improve, how we can identify other colleagues, similar to us, to invest in the railway system. It is imperative that we work together, four plus countries work together, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Congo DRC, we need to find some common ground to fix our railway system for movement of our goods and services,” he said.

He said conflicts in the African region were taking away opportunities for African countries to invest in the mining sector.

“Aggression leading to conflict is taking away opportunities from us to invest more in the mining sector, I think we should not accept that. We have an opportunity to actualise “agenda 2063: the Africa we want”, which is anchored on harnessing the continent’s endowments embodied in people and natural resources. We are however, cognisant of the threats that stand in the way of us actualising our aspirations, civil strife, conflict and instability has characterised a number of mineral rich areas of our continent, we must endeavor to foster peace and stability across the continent because conflict impedes investment and the prospect of social and economic growth, that we all desire. I therefore wish to underscore Zambia’s support to all efforts aimed at resolving the ongoing conflicts on our continent,” said President Hichilema.