Kalala pities ‘ignorant’ Kalaba

JACK Kalala has accused opposition Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba of being ignorant about issues an aspiring Republican president should know.

Kalala says Kalaba should research and surround himself with a knowledgeable team.

On ‘The Platform’ radio programme on Joy FM on Thursday last week, Kalaba, a former lands, natural resources and environmental protection minister, ‘clarified’ that he did not act alone on the issue of an impending mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

The Lusaka High Court has sanctioned mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

The decision by the court now casts uncertainty on the tourism industry and small-scale entrepreneurs in the national park as Mwembeshi Resources Limited would go ahead with its large-scale mining activities in the centre of the park.

In January 2014, Kalaba shocked all concerned and ordinary Zambians when he gave a go-ahead to the mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

But a group of conservation-based Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) appealed Kalaba’s decision in the Lusaka High Court where they obtained an injunction which acted as a stay of execution of the mining project.

Last month, on October 17, Lusaka High Court judge Charles Chanda ruled that the appeal challenging the decision of Kalaba to allow Mwembeshi Resources to produce copper within the national park was incompetently before court as no record of appeal was filed.

Among other things on the radio programme, Kalaba pointed out that the issue of the Lower Zambezi National Park did not start with him in 2014.

“The Australian investors came somewhere around 2006 when [Levy] Mwanawasa was president and Jack Kalala was the advisor to Mwanawasa…” Kalaba said.

Early last week, Kalala, who was the special assistant to president Mwanawasa for policy and project implementation and monitoring, said Kalaba should not run away from the impending mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

In response, Kalaba said he takes responsibility that he overturned the decision of the Zambia Environmental and Management Agency (ZEMA) against allowing a mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

He says he stands guilty because he was the responsible minister in charge of natural resources and environmental protection.
But Kalaba said ZEMA initially refused to sanction the construction of Sun Hotels International in Livingstone.
“ZEMA had said they don’t want that project to go ahead. But Mwanawasa, at the time, said it was important that the Sun Hotels should go ahead. Government then overruled ZEMA,” Kalaba explained.

“There are various projects that government overrules ZEMA.”

On Sunday, Kalala told The Mast that: “I have read something where Kalaba is saying the issue of the Lower Zambezi (impending mining project) came during the time of president Levy Mwanawasa.”

“But I feel pity for him because he doesn’t seem to understand issues, although he is aspiring to become President. Exploration and mining are two different ball games altogether,” Kalala said.

“I can obtain an exploration licence over Lusaka town to know what is underground. When I know what is underground, I’ll make a report to government to say what I have found. But mining is a different thing…. With exploration, there are so many ways to do it without damaging the environment – you can do drilling, aerial or satellite exploration.”

Kalala noted that at one point, the Mwanawasa government contemplated to know what was underground.

“If we had money, we were going to explore every inch of this country so that we know the resources we have underground. But that (exploration) does not amount to do mining,” he said. “You should have a record of what you have underground and that is the exploration licence that was given during the time of Mwanawasa. So, you cannot say because the exploration started during the time of Mwanawasa then mining has to be approved. No! That’s not an excuse. It’s a lame excuse.”

Kalala insisted that Kalaba should take full responsibility and explain the decision he made to allow mining activity in a national park.

“He accepts that he takes responsibility but he adds a “but”. It is wrong! Let him explain why in 2014 he found it befitting to overrule ZEMA,” Kalala noted.

Kalala also indicated that it was “false information” Kalaba’s assertion that president Mwanawasa allowed Sun Hotels to build a hotel: “in the game park in Livingstone.”

“That hotel was not built during the time of president Mwanawasa. Before, there was InterContinental Hotel and when InterContinental Hotel was privatised, Sun Hotels bought it and that was during the time of president Chiluba. Kalaba doesn’t have the information; he just wants to share blames,” Kalala said.

“How can such a person become a president? He is just destroying himself! As a leader, he should, first of all, have facts. Sun Hotels was not developed during the time of president Mwanawasa, but during Chiluba. Kalaba should research and surround himself with capable people to give him information, instead of just going on air to say this and that.”
He doubts that Kalaba could make a capable leader.

“He should wait and serve under somebody else before he could aspire to become president,” advised Kalala.

“The problem is that we have cheapened the presidency in Zambia – anyone can wake up in the morning and start aspiring to become a president.”

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