Investors collude with leaders to oppress workers – Fr Luonde

By Staff Reporter

Opposition Socialist Party says Zambians are being mistreated by some investors in collusion with ruling Patriotic Front leaders.

Commenting on the latest explosive new report by a southern African research organization, Socialist Party spokesperson Father Richard Luonde told newsdayzambia.com it was inconceivable the majority of the people were wallowing in abject poverty in the midst of abundant mineral resources.

Fr Luonde said the natural resources the country was endowed with should benefit citizens through improved provision of social services and decent lives.

“In health sector services are very poor and those benefiting are travelling out of the country for specialized treatment at the expense of the poor Zambians. It has been like this because our current policies don’t favour the poor masses but the rich and those who are able to steal,” said Fr Luonde.

He said the Zambian miners still remained tools of abuse by the mine owners who pay them peanuts.

“Imagine an Interpol report in 2018, Zambia exported US$700 million worth of copper which accounts for the most African copper exports. That means we are the leading export of copper in Africa and what do we get at the end?, zero,” Fr Luonde said.

Fr Luonde called for a paradigm shift in order to put the country back or truck.

“This must change and it can only change if us Zambians begin to speak out and struggle for that which belong to us, because if we don’t struggle and begin to change the way we are being governed we shall ever continue to wallow in poverty,” said Fr Luonde. “North Western Province and Solwezi in particular is the most poorest district in our land and it has all the natural resources, so my appeal to the Zambia government is that we are not blind, we are not uneducated we are able to read and see what is happening, why is the government failing to help its own people, and why are they failing to provide services to their own people?” he asked.

Fr Luonde has since called on Zambians to fight for a better country.

On Tuesday an explosive new report by a southern African research organization indicated that Zambia’s copper mining industry was profitable while making its citizens poorer.

The report by Southern Africa Resource Watch examined conditions in the community around one mine in North Western Zambia, where they  they found the vast wealth was not being spread to the surrounding community, a tale that could be told across mineral-rich communities in Africa.

Report author Edward Lange said the organization chose to investigate Kansanshi because the Canadian owner, which is Zambia’s highest corporate taxpayer had a good reputation.

“But then, what we discovered, was that the wealth that Kansanshi Mine extracts does not match the poverty, the disorder, the poor social conditions which is prevailing in the shanty town of Solwezi,” he said. “They’ve polluted, they’ve displaced people in the community, and facilities they’ve provided cannot quench the amount of pollution they’ve caused on the community”.

First Quantum Minerals on its website, said it had found that the operations “contribute almost 4 percent of the total economic value added to the countries in which we operate.”

Measured purely by its underground wealth, copper- and gold-rich Zambia should be one of the world’s richest nations. In 2018 it exported more than $700 million worth of copper, which accounted for most of Africa’s copper exports.

Lange spoke to VOA from the sidelines of Africa’s main mining conference, held this week in Cape Town.

“This is a sad African story of a big investment where the communities are not benefiting,” he said. “It’s a failure, you know, the failure to use the abundant mineral resources to transform the lives of the people is what is worrying us. And this is at the center of discussions across the continent.”

But the nation’s mining minister, Richard Musukwa, painted a rosier picture by stating that the effect of the mining industry on Zambia and its communities has been overwhelmingly positive.

 

“It has brought jobs, growth, education and infrastructure development. Where there is wrongdoings, breaches of regulation or abuse of the Zambian people and unsafe mining methods, this government will actively and immediately intervene to ensure that the lives of our people are guaranteed,” he reported to have told VOA.