Chief Naluama of Mazabuka has issued a stern warning to Namwala Member of Parliament, Major Robbie Chizyuka and his Indigenous Rights
Committee to stop sowing seeds of discontent among villagers earmarked for resettlement by Albidon Zambia Limited, Munali Nickel mine.
The Chief told ZANIS in Mazabuka today that his warning should be taken seriously to avoid embarrassment.
Chief Naluama said he is disappointed to learn that Major Chizyuka decided to address an illegal meeting in which he allegedly incited villagers to resist the
resettlement programme and refuse to move to the new housing units built by the Mine.
The Chief said he is aware that the some opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Members of Parliament have teamed up to frustrate the investor
from carrying out construction works after their bid to throw away the application to approve the 2,100 hactares of land during a recent full council meeting failed.
Chief Naluama said he will not allow lawlessness to take root in his chiefdom by enemies of development.
The traditional ruler also questioned which people Major Chizyuka and his Indigenous People’s Rights are claiming to represent when they do not even hail from his
Chief Naluama advised Major Chizyuka not to waste his time misleading people because the stage at which the resettlement programme has reached was irreversible.
But Major Chizyuka said no one has got the right to stop him from protecting disadvantaged communities.
He said he has instructed villagers affected by the opening of the mine not to accept to be resettled at the new farmland bought by the mine.
Meanwhile, Mine Manager, Sixtus Mulenga expressed disappointment at the level of frustration from the opposition UPND.
Dr Mulenga said the investor is there to open up development adding that the mine management has not violated any law to deserve such harassment and intimidation.
He expressed shock to learn that a meeting had been called without the knowledge of the mine, chief and local government leadership.
Yesterday villagers of Mugoto area in Mazabuka District of Southern Province expressed anxiety about their possible displacement by Albidon Nickel Mine which is
seeking to expand its business interest in the area.
Speaking on behalf of the villagers in Mugoto today, Indigenous People’s Rights Association Chairman Joshua Ng’andu expressed worry that the expansion of mining
operations by the Australian mining company would dislodge the villagers.
Mr. Ng’andu said the further expansion of mining operations would be to the disadvantage of the local community.
He said although Albidon Nickel Mine is a welcome investment, steps should be taken to ensure that the villagers are not disadvantaged.
Mr. Ng’andu said long-term interests of the local community should be taken into account by both the mining company and government authorities.
He said the mining firm should demonstrate its social responsibility by ensuring that the livelihood of the villagers is taken into account.
Mr. Ng’andu lamented that over 2000 villagers risk being displaced by the expansion of the mining operations in the area.
He said the villagers, who are largely pastoral farmers, risk loosing their herding-land and their crop fields thereby threatening their household food
Mr. Ng’andu further lamented that the villagers would also loose their investment which they pumped into the building of their homes and other structures.
And Namwala Member of Parliament Major Robby Chizyuka said Albidon Nickel Mine, an Australian company, did not have the right to displace the indigenous people.
He said the expansion of the mining operations would inevitably dislodge the villagers and force them to relocate to water-logged areas, which are not habitable.
Major Chizyuka said the interests of local communities should be top of the agenda of any investor wishing to invest in any locality.
He said issues of compensation and social responsibility should be cleared before an investor seeks expansion of their business interests.