Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park

Over the last week, we have seen the Zambian Government set a dangerous precedent in relation to the care and management of our country’s National Parks. Through the Minister of Lands Mr Harry Kalaba, Zambezi Resources Limited (ZRL), an Australian Stock Exchange-listed company, has been granted permission to mine for copper in the middle of the pristine Lower Zambezi National Park. This is despite reservations and the outright rejection of ZRL’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). ZRL appealed the decision and the result was Mr Kalaba’s overruling of ZEMA.

The immediate question that comes to mind is this: For how long will politicians continue to disregard national institutions? The only word to describe this state of affairs is lawlessness; governmental lawlessness. If not this then what? When you have lawlessness, anything goes. We now know that there is no guarantee that other National Parks will indeed be protected from unsustainable, suspect mining agreements. If ZEMA can be ignored in the Lower Zambezi, then it can also be ignored in the Kafue or Liuwa or wherever else private interest trumps that of the public.

My reasons for objecting to the Minister’s decision are many. The threat to the ecosystems of the Lower Zambezi Valley – fauna, flora, rivers – is an obvious one. Towns like Kabwe and others on the Copperbelt are a ghostly reminder of what happens when mining, and an over-reliance on it, go wrong. Today we are in the process of destroying a beautiful National Park to make way for a mine which we speculate will bring “development”. What folly!

Though countries like Zambia own much of the world’s mineral resources, we are continually failing to reap the benefits owed to us. What makes Mr Kalaba think things will be different this time? This mine will not only negatively affect an area of outstanding beauty, it will also put local communities at the mercy of external players. If we are simply failing to introduce a mining windfall tax, what makes us think Zambezi Resources Limited will stick with us when times get hard? And please note, times will get hard.

Let’s be clear however: I am not against mining per se. I am a child of the mines myself, having grown up in Kitwe and gone through the mine school system for my primary. The mines however were state-owned then. Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) invested greatly in people and communities despite incurring huge debts in the process. The story is very different now. The mines are privately owned and are more accountable to shareholders outside Zambia than to the people of Zambia. This means that those who believe that this mine project will bring “development” and jobs (what sort and for whom?) will need to think more critically.

Razia Khan, the Head of Research (Africa) at Standard Chartered Bank in London, recently stated that much of Africa’s economic growth this year will be driven by consumer spending rather than by commodities. Tourism is a consumable product and our Government needs to be making deliberate efforts to ensure that the sector is sustainably grown. This will also correlate with its verbal commitment to diversifying the economy away from copper production. Our expanding middle class will visit these areas if the incentives and the commitment is there. Widening access to people from poorer backgrounds must also become a matter for serious policy consideration by the Ministry of Tourism and industry operators.

When all is said and done, the most frustrating thing about this debacle is the range of unanswered questions that remain – like little elephants spread around the room. Here are some of them:

– What convinced the Minister of Lands that the changes made to ZRL’s 2nd EIS were sufficient to warrant his approval?
– Why won’t ZEMA come out and openly support the Minister’s decision?
– Why is ZEMA’s rejection report not available on its website?
– What is Sylvia Masebo’s position on the matter, as Minister for Tourism?
– Where does this decision leave the Government’s verbal commitment to economic diversification?
– Why should we trust anything the Government says?

I believe this issue is a test of Zambia’s democracy. The Minister has said his decision is final but many Zambians think otherwise. Will any step out and take action, as it is their democratic right to do so? That is why I support the call to examine whether a legal case can be brought against the Government before the 17th February deadline.

Chipo Muwowo is a writer and campaigner. He blogs at MasukuOnMyMind.com. Visit the ‘No to Mining in Lower Zambezi National Park’ Facebook page for more on this topic

[Read 30 times, 1 reads today]
Loading...

37 COMMENTS

  1. Warning to the Australian Mining Firm: when we kick out PF in 2016, we will cancel the concession. After all PF cancelled with Lap Green! Go ahead at own peril

    0

    0
  2. SILVIA MASEBO, minister of tourism is so quiet on this matter. Madam masebo, you are a great disappointment. It is very clear on this case that pf does not mean well for Zambia. The cant claim to create employment for a few people and find it ok to pollute the Zambezi river. Why cant they improve the park so that more people can be going their. The other limitation is that the park is within Lusaka, honestly do you want Lusaka to be having those fumes from the mines?

    0

    0
    • This is the selfsame reason I was laughing at the gulliblity of most Zambians who were praising Masebo on the run-up to the UNWTO conference that she is hard working…oh my god… any f*ol can spend money…true hard work is about policy creation and policy direction when it comes to ministers.

      0

      0
  3. PF are criminals! They are behaving like foreigners out to make a quick buck!. Lower Zambezi is also your home you muppets! Home is not only Muchinga! Look after the whole Zambia !

    0

    0
  4. This is how Caucasians develop their economies,do the mining in Zambia,create sister companies in the investors home country which will employ the locals,their govt tax those employees and their healthy system is improved while leaving the visionless,belly politicians with small kickbacks.we as a country need to change our mindset.

    0

    0
  5. There are a number of petitions that have been raised on this but like the opposition they will be weak unless they unite. I agree with the author we need to band together to stop this. The ecological damage is a huge concern lets not ignore it. Development can be derived from nature too – see South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda! Finally what guarantee do we have that they are not a front for the Chinese? Remember Munali? the Australians turned round and sold it to the Chinese who in return killed Zambians!!

    0

    0
  6. How many people on this blog say they have been to any National park in the last one year to date?. If a Zambian is in a National park it`s either he/she works there as a game/tour guild or forced to work there as a result of the job-NGO`s etc or better still maybe one lives in a village located in a national park. A National park only benefits rural forks for poaching and a few as game guides.What about the rest?. Let`s share the massive park lands with economic activity. There must be a balance between wild life and human activity. We need both to move forward. Most people on this blog have jobs, but what of the poor people in the rural areas who could use such an opportunity?. Should they continue in poverty because some elephant which eats their poor crop is more important than them???

    0

    0
    • Ba Mulenga,

      The people in the villages do not have the required qualifications and experience to be employed on the so-called “well-paying” jobs. All relatively well-paying jobs will go to people who will be coming from the Copperbelt or Northwestern Province. No tangible benefits will accrue to the local communities. Building a clinic or a three classroom block in the nearby chiefdoms are not benefits you can talk about at the expense of destroying a pristine National Park. This is shameful on the part of government to say the least. Can the learned lawyers advise if this can be taken to court? We have seen how we have lost out in terms of revenue from these foreign-owned mines. Talk of the mines on the copperbelt & northwestern provinces, who’s benefitting? Who’s damaging…

      0

      0
    • Mr MUlenga,am i right to assert that your opinion is in inference stating that lets destroy our land environmentally in order to get money now and whatever obvious consequences in the future matter less?How patriotic!?Is it not typical of most people’s thinking?Short term benefits only as though zambia began and ends with them.Mr MUlenga,we are not so deperate yet as though this mine is the last resort to save the dying nation.It is not oil they will be mining by the way or is there something else we dont know ?Has Govt worked on its tax policies concerning mines yet?We need patriotic decisions from leaders especially that the party in power claims to be just that.I see no patriotism in the destruction of our resouces now.LETS NOT DEPLETE OUR RESERVES FOR OUR CHILDREN AND CHILDREN’S…

      0

      0
  7. Since they have gone against the environmental agencies advise! Why don’t the government mine the place themselves so all the money stays in Zambia, I don’t understand why this Government still relies on foreign companies to tell us how to make money from our own resources! Look at the Arabs, they protect their resources but the PF government are too lazy

    0

    0
  8. “That is why I support the call to examine whether a legal case can be brought against the Government before the 17th February deadline.”

    Exactly, I hope the lawyers and environmental NGOs are working on this!

    0

    0
  9. What is happening kanshi? How does a sane minister sanction opening of an open pit mine in the middle of a game park. Ala lesa akamikanda ishi ndalama mwatemwa. come 2016 . I wont waste my VOTE on you P.F.
    If this was forced on u ba Minister ,resign on moral grounds, unless u belong to CHAINAMA M. HOSIPITAL

    0

    0
  10. Lets find solutions to problems caused by large scale mining such as environmental degradation instead of arresting development. The waters in the rivers of the lower Zambezi just go to waste as they flow to Mozambique and finally the Indian ocean. We should also fight to get a fare share of our resources. If we want development there is no way of escaping pollution unless we start living in caves like our fore fathers.

    0

    0
  11. Not all so-called “economists” are bright. Some are very dull. We are all often good at criticising new ideas but not good at offering solutions. PHDs.

    0

    0
  12. BA KALABA, MWATUSEBANYA. UBUFISA NTUNGU NABUNUNKA. WE ONLY SMELL CORRUPTION IN THIS WHOLE MINING LICENCE DEAL, NOTHING ELSE.

    KICK BACKS, BROWN ENVELOPE, DARK CORNER MEETINGS ARE THE SOURCE OF YOUR DECISION.

    0

    0
  13. If we were to always listen to environmentalists (Green Peace activists) then nothing would be done and everyone would be static. The expansion of the Kitwe-Chingola and Chingola-Solwezi roads involve the destruction of some habitat (trees or indeed flora and fauna) but we have kept quiet on this. The construction of Mongu-Kalabo road must have been stopped if we were concerned about the natural habitat but alas! I thought that either the natural habitat (tourism) or the proposed project (mining) MUST be for the benefit of Zambians and if so, what is the opportunity cost of not developing the mine there? Remember that even where we have all these beautiful houses we live in and write articles from were once occupied by beautiful natural habitats but because of being selfish as humans?

    0

    0
  14. Immediately after hosting the UNWTO (or whatever the abbreviation is) conference to this????? Are you kidding me!! Government full of dunderheads! Am challenging Kalaba to the ring…..nganamuponona, he has to rescind his decision. Let’s go!

    0

    0
    • Language, language, language being used please! Can we be a bit civil please and realise that the issue at hand is an extremely serious one? People would not think we are serious if we resort to such kind of language. By the way do not promote Bemba by using such words as used in your comment on Hon. Kalaba, MP who should be judged in a manner that he handles things. Are you sure if an opportunity arose to engage him he would accept you with that kind of language? And if you cannot engage him on such important issues then nothing would be solved and Hon. Kalaba, MP would push on with his programme and you and I would just remain complaining. Please let us use the language that befits an issue at hand. Thank you and I hope I will not receive the same language.

      0

      0
  15. I think as matter of urgency, royal highnesses in the lower Zambezi/NGOs should Govt. and stop any entry of mining equipment in the park.

    Was this issue tabled in the central Commitee? Can a decision of this magnitude miss the president’s contribution? I see hidden hands in this matter.

    0

    0
  16. Let us all rise up and protest…..! We are the owners of the land and not the politicians. Wake up fellow Zambians, it is time to blow the vuvuzela and let us all come together to protect our resources.

    0

    0
  17. Has anyone been to Kabwe? Does anyone have an ideal about the lead pollution content in Kabwe environment? Of course the government knows and just don’t care. If environmental concerns have been raised, why not look for ways to mitigate the concerns before giving a go on the mine. But again, our government doesn’t care. The country is debt and they need money to start servicing the debt.

    Amazing, the government paid for the education of most people who were involved in the environmental Assessement study but they don’t want to listen to them. Same Government is talking about improving our education system. I am sorry and don’t mean to be rude or unappreciative and certainly don’t mean any offense to anyone but nothing is making sense in Zambia at all.

    0

    0
  18. Lusaka ranked amongst the 10 worst cities in the world.
    The Economist Intelligence Unit — the city rankings specialists — has a new list claiming the best cities to live. And they have an interesting new livability metrics to judge the world’s cities.

    The rankings combined EIU’s popular “Liveability Index” with a new measure that focuses on spatial characteristics. The “Spatially Adjusted Livability Index” takes into account seven characteristics:

    Sprawl: using the “estimated relation between the metropolitan region’s surface and its total population, the overall coherence of the metropolitan form and an estimate of the extent of low density urban fabric.”

    Green space: based on “the distribution of green spaces within the metropolitan region, the number of local…

    0

    0
  19. Natural assets: using “Google Earth satellite imagery and information from Open Street Map to assign points to cities based on the natural features” and the number of protected areas around a city center.

    Cultural assets: counting the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the vicinity of the cities.

    Connectivity: calculating how many cities can be reached by plane from a city and the average number of flights from that city.

    Isolation: based on the number of large cities near a city.

    Pollution: using World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Air Pollution in Cities database to calculate air quality with a concentration of particulate matter of over 10 micrometres.

    Using these criteria here are the 10 best cities to live in:

    Hong Kong
    Amsterdam
    Osaka

    0

    0
  20. Using these criteria here are the 10 best cities to live in:

    Hong Kong
    Amsterdam
    Osaka
    Paris
    Sydney
    Stockholm
    Berlin
    Toronto
    Munich
    Tokyo

    And the 10 worst:

    Tehran
    Nairobi
    Lusaka
    Phnom Penh
    Karachi
    Dakar
    Abidjan
    Dhaka
    Lagos
    Harare

    0

    0
  21. There is one region in Australia where local farmers have refused a mining company to undertake exploration activities because they believe that would destroy the land forever! The region has among the most fertile land in the world for agricultural activities but also possesses rich mineral resources like gold. However, the local farmer in this region filed a court injunction to mining which is likely to let the fertile land extinct, and this was granted. So now that this mining company has failed in Australia, the target is a poor country like Zambia with corrupt politician ready to mortgage the country’s natural resources for a price of a song! The writer of the above article rightfully pointed out that mining investors have no interest in developing communities like it in the past!

    0

    0
  22. Points to take note of
    1) Kangaluwi is 40 km away from where the animals are concentrated
    2) There used to be a gold mine there in Changwenga. The equipments such as furnace, cyanide tanks, small tailing dam and a shaft are there.
    3) Copperbelt was once like the Lower Zambezi. Why are the environmentalist quiet?
    4) People against the mining have jobs and have nice homes being built as a result of the mines.
    5) There are a total of 7 mines on the Copperbelt and the Kafue river meanders around these towns. ZEMA is quiet.
    6) Kalumbila is being opened are trees are being cut. Why is ZEMA quiet? Mind you Kalumbila wil build a small world class town with proper housing.
    7) Nearly all towns are built with money from the mines. Those who oppose the mine, go and live in trees or hang…

    0

    0
  23. Zambia police have just broken-up a peaceful protest on Mining in Lower Zambezi NP and arrested several NGO members. The environmental activists were picketing a COMESA-Western Australia Mine development investment meeting at Pamodzi

    0

    0

Comments are closed.