President Mwanawasa has lashed out at politicians bent on frustrating government efforts in fostering development in the country.
Speaking when he officiated at the ground breaking ceremony of the construction of the Albidon Zambia
limited Nickel mine in Mazabuka today, Mr Mwanawasa said some politicians had alleged that the mining company had disadvantaged Zambians.
Mr Mwanawasa who had earlier toured the resettlement
site said he was impressed with what he saw as villagers were being built a house each and were given two animals.
He said villagers were happy and were looking forward
to move to the site.
”Who are you speaking for when you say Zambians are
being disadvantaged. We have been independent for 43
years, why didnt you develop the nickel project,” he said.
Mr Mwanawasa urged critics to stop wasting government’s time.
He noted that he was happy that the mining company had
invested U$ 100 million in the development of nickel.
Mr Mwanawasa also said the pace at which the company
had moved from discovery to exploration underscored
the commitment of Albidon.
He said the investment would generate employment and
would result in wealth creation not only for the Mazabuka community but for the country as a whole.
The president said the theme of the ground breaking
ceremony was ‘Revival and diversification of the mining industry in Zambia.”
He noted that over U$4 billion has been invested in the mining industry which has seen the production of copper doubling from 250,000 metric tonnes in 2001 to 500,000 metric tonnes in 2006.
Mr Mwanawasa said with the coming in of new investments, copper production was projected to rise
to 1 million tonnes per annum by 2011 which would push the country back among the major global copper producing countries.
”We are now seeing diversification in the mining sector itself. We however want to see more development in the country as it is under explored,” he said.
He said the exploration and mapping project undertaken
by the ministry of mines will cover the remaing 45 percent adding that this would enable the country to do more mining activities.
Mr Mwanawasa said his goal was to see to it that the private sector establishes one mine in each province
with significant ownership being placed in the hands of Zambians.Â
And speaking earlier when he toured a house of one of
the evicted families, Mr Mwanawasa said he had received complaints that the displaced villagers were being exploited and that the investor had taken away their land.
Mr Mwanawasa said contrary to the reports, he was happy with what he had seen on the ground.
He said it will be retrogressive for some politicians to fight development as innocent people would suffer just because selfish politicians want to champion their cause.
Mr Mwanawasa said it was important for people to realise that the project was being taken to their area because government was interested in fostering development.
”The important thing is that people should realise that these are projects of the party and government and people should grasp this. It will not do for us to start fighting development,” he said.
And one of the resettled villagers Robert Chilobya told
the President that each of the resettled villagers has
been given two cows and that the mine management would
provide fertiliser for the initial year. He said the
construction of the rest of the houses was still in
Mr Chilobya said before he was resettled he had 10
hectares and noted that he now has an additional five
making it fifteen hectares.