SOUTHERN Africa Resource Watch country representative Edwine Lange says it is hypocritical for the Patriotic Front government to claim it is a pro-poor government when it has hidden the 2008 mines and minerals development Act. In an interview, Lange said the removal of the Act or clause was alarming and had brought a lot of questions to why it has disappeared.
“The 2008 Mines and Mineral Act had a clause that talked about the government putting in place a mechanism that allowed the sharing of mineral royalties and revenue with the local government but in 2015 it disappeared and there has been no explanation given for removing it,” he said.
Lange said mineral royalties were what could have helped some mining towns develop as most of them were lagging behind.
He said towns like Chingola and Mufulira have had bad roads and poor water networks even when they were blessed with copper. Lange said civil society organisations have noticed that the government had not been sincere with ensuring that mining companies plough back to the communities they extract minerals from.
He said non-mining provinces were doing far much better in terms of infrastructure development compared to those where minerals were extracted. Lange said the 2008 clause should be brought back to allow equal sharing of mineral royalty revenue. He said CSOs were ready to sit down with the government to discuss ways the community could have a share of the country’s mineral wealth.
“We have realised that all successful governments have not been honest with ensuring that mining companies give back to the communities. Most of these towns are not doing well and people are crying that have had enough and we feel that Zambians have suffered for every long time now,” said Lange.