By EAZ President, Dr. Lubinda Haabazoka
The news that mining has been given a go ahead by the courts in a project that has been disputed since 2012 has worried me the past few days.
I have had the privilege of visiting the lower Zambezi and I tell you there is not a place beautiful in Zambia than that place.
I must admit that most animals prefer the Zimbabwean side because of human encroachment on the Zambian side.
Poaching is also rampant amongst us Zambians. Indiscriminate cutting down of tree is also a big problem.
The Republican President decreed that he wants to see tourism the second contributor to GDP. This is achievable and as the Economics Association of Zambia, we are working hand in hand with the government through the ministry of tourism to ensure this is realised..
In order for us to achieve that, we need to have a different approach towards tourism management as well as management of our natural wonders and parks.
Mining in lower Zambezi will have the following negative effects:
- Mining will pollute the surrounding environment and since animals are sensitive, they will run to Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Our generation will be seeing lions in other countries or at zoos which we don’t have.
- Mining will create unplanned settlements in the lower Zambezi National Park as the mine will attract all sorts of people that will come to benefit from mining activities. Even if the mine builds planned settlements for its employees, these settlements will need maids, gardeners, tailors, mechanics, Electricians, etc these people will come and build these unplanned settlements and removing them from there will be a political issue just like any other unplanned settlement in Zambia. In fact politicians will protect them therefore destroying the park completely.
- The mine after attracting shanty compounds will be unable to provide electricity and even energy for cooking. There comes in charcoal burning. The first 10 years the mine will be operational, there will be no trees left!!!
- This mine won’t be profitable in its first 10 years just like other mines have done in Zambia. But the damage that will be made in the 10 years to the environment will be enormous.
- Increased animal human conflicts
- Agriculture activities will start in the park making it difficult for ZAWA to operate
- Zambia will have no right to talk about climate change. The world operates like a cartel. Once you approve mining in a National park, no green funds will flow into the country and tourists will never come. We shall be “blacklisted” by tourists because of these actions. The blacklisting won’t be formal but in the minds of tourists. The same way customers companies running racist adverts.
The verdict is that we need to all come together and stop these people from mining. The economic and environmental benefits of keeping a National park outweigh those of mining. Just the other week the mines were laying off employees.
Kabwe is an example of what happens after mining activities. We have found it difficult to revive vegetation there. Chingola is an example of the negative effects of mining due to pollution as fishermen and farmers can no longer produce.
We are now talking about the Kafue and Zambezi rivers. These two rivers meet in the Zambezi National Park.
This doesn’t even need a court decision. It needs an administrative decision.
ZEMA did not approve the mine. Then Minister Hon Harry Kalaba is said to have overruled them. The current minister can reverse the decision in the interest of the nation.
The government should start giving all parks under private management to avoid future companies seeking to mine in the parks.
We are already cutting down trees at the source of the Zambezi, and now we are moving to the parks. What kind of people are we???