NATIONAL Restoration Party leader Elias Chipimo says President Edgar Lungu and the PF should answer the question as to whether they feel they have blood on their hands after the death of 10 small-scale miners at the Black Mountain in Kitwe.
And Chipimo says President Edgar Lungu must apologise to the families of the Black Mountain ‘accident’ for putting the lives of their loved ones at risk.
He has also called for the resignation of mines minister Richard Musukwa. However, Musukwa has refused to resign saying the victims of the accident were scavengers. Chipimo and many other politicians took time to warn President Lungu and the PF about the dangers of allowing small-scale miners commonly known as Jerabos to continue mining at the Black Mountain.
On March 2, 2018, Chipimo said during a press briefing in Lusaka:
“Here we go again. The long-suffering youth on the Copperbelt have once again been duped into believing a party that is desperate to hold onto power actually cares for them. They were fooled once in order to extract their vote and they are being fooled again into believing the PF actually cares about them. Make no mistake; we need to ask the question: what deal has been done with the Jerabos? The President is merely using this as a public relations stance to hold onto his slim chances of surviving the political storm that is brewing. I have visited illegal miners and spoken to families whose sons have died digging up material in unsafe locations just because they are desperate to make a life for themselves. If the PF really cared about the Jerabos or any of the youth struggling to make a life for themselves on the Copperbelt, they would not treat this matter as lightly as they have. We want our people to own large-scale mining licenses in the future. This will come about by investing in the young people and putting in place partnership arrangements that will ensure they are fully and properly trained to engage in productive and sustainable mining practices that will build them up to even greater ownership roles in future mines. This is why NAREP is proposing implementation of the TiPanGeni initiative for genuine empowerment that will build skills and create wealth in all communities across the nation.”
And Chipimo, in a statement following the accident, stated that the disaster at the Black Mountain was predicted.
“We received, with a heavy heart, the news that filtered through about the death of many young Zambians while operating at the Black Mountain slag dump in Kitwe. We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the young men that have lost their lives in this terrible incident which ranks as Zambia’s worst mining ‘accident’ in recent years,” Chipimo stated.
“This ‘accident’ was not only predictable, it was actually predicted. Many, including NAREP, had warned of the danger of unsupervised operations at the slag dump. The decision to grant open access to a dangerous and unstable mine site reflects the irresponsibility of political leadership whose sole aim is to retain political power at any cost. President Lungu and his advisers must surely now reflect on how many lives they feel need to be needlessly lost in order to secure their political survival on the Copperbelt. They should answer the question as to whether they feel they have blood on their hands.”
He said Musukwa must resign with immediate effect.
“Three things must be done from this point onwards: (i) Mr. Richard Musukwa must resign as Minister of Mines – this is what any self-respecting individual who goes on record rubbishing the concerns of people’s safety a few days before an accident actually happens, would do; (ii) the police, local authorities and the Ministry of Mines should take clear and comprehensive steps to ensure that no further mining operations take place without proper and enforceable guidelines that adhere to the law and safe mining practices; and (iii) an apology should ensue from President Lungu to the families of the victims of this ‘accident’ for putting the lives of their loved ones at risk,”
“In future, no politically motivated manoeuvres of this nature should be allowed to endanger the lives of communities yearning for empowerment. We have always said that there is a way to empower the youth on the Copperbelt. NAREP remains open and willing to provide these ideas and to work together towards their implementation in order to ensure that incidents like this never happen again.”
Musukwa on Thursday defiantly told Parliament that he will not resign over the black mountain accident that claimed the lives of ten miners because, according to him, they were illegal miners