Mines minister Paul Kabuswe has announced the immediate 30-day suspension of the issuance of mining licenses which he said has been marred by corruption by officers at his Ministry.
Addressing the media this morning, Mr. Kabuswe said that the suspension of the issuance of mining licenses is to allow for the cleaning up of the system and establish the exact point of corruption.
Mr. Kabuswe said that the Ministry has been dealing with alleged abuse of the mining rights administration of the mining cadastra department leading to serious damage to the reputation of the department and Ministry.
He indicated that the Ministry inherited a rotten system which has led to the perpetuation of corrupt practices and will use the suspension period as well reforms to correct the situation for the benefit of both local and foreign investors.
He revealed that the Ministry will in the next one month undertake an extensive audit on mining rights, undertake a work-study on the processes at the department as well as undertake internal reorientation training for members if staff.
“Due to the technical nature of this assignment, the work will be undertaken by a cross function internal team of officers with high integrity and competence from internal audit, Mines development, Mines safety, and mining cadastre”, he said.
The Mines Minister has since revealed that any mining license Issued during the period of the suspension shall be null and void and added that his office will not tolerate gangsterism in the industry which leads to lawlessness.
The mining sector has witnessed a rise in the number of illegal activities needing quick reforms and solutions to allow genuine investors and artisans to participate in the sector.
Meanwhile, daily nation reported that Hakainde Hichilema should scrutinize the list of cooperatives that are supposed to benefit from the black mountain because it was fake and engineered by some ministers.
The Emerald and Semi-Precious Stones Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) has accused ministers of creating cooperatives to share in the black mountain, through which they could also benefit.
ESMAZ General Secretary, Shadreck Mwape made the allegations in an exclusive interview with the Daily Nation in Kitwe.
He said, during the handover of the black mountain by the Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe last week, his association demanded to know how many cooperatives were there and their names, but no convincing answer was given.
This, he said, has led his association to conclude that the cooperatives were fake and came from Lusaka so that they could benefit from the Nkana Slug dump popularly known as the ‘Black Mountain”.
Mr Mwape, however, said some aggrieved UPND cadres told him that some of the cooperatives which had come at the black mountain had come with a named minister from Lusaka so that he could use them to benefit from the Black Mountain
He said his association was not happy with the way the whole thing was handled and so decided to issue a statement in the media to express its displeasure on the matter
“Yes, we went to the Black Mountain, hoping that we can also benefit from President Hakainde Hichilema’s gesture, but we were not happy with the way things were being done. We were dribbled. We asked about how many cooperatives will benefit and their names, but we could not be told.
“We later came to know that we could not be told the number and the names of the Cooperatives because most of them were fake cooperatives and belonged to some ministers. This is likely to cause confusion at the Black Mountain because even some UPND youths are not happy,’’ Mr Mwape said
Mr Mwape said ESMAZ was deeply disappointed in the manner the Black Mountain was being divided or shared among the youths, warning that a good gesture from the republican President can be messed up by greediness and selfish by few selfish individuals
“What the government or Ministry of Mines is forgetting is that the parents of youths are custodian of this change of ushering in the UPND into government.
Last week, Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe handed over the 30 per cent shares in the Black Mountain to Women and Youths, which hand over left many questions than answers in terms of operations and payment modalities
The Mines Minister said his ministry would work tirelessly to ensure that President Hakainde Hichilema’s goal to promote sanity in the mining sector was achieved
He also said anyone that would raise any confusion to bring disturbance with the operations would be dealt with, saying the approach has been holistic so he did not expect gangsterism to be part of these operations.
And Mr Matambo said he was happy the government had fulfilled its promise to empower the Zambians on the Copperbelt with the slug dump aimed at providing employment and food security at household level.
“Copperbelt was an engine of development in the country therefore the need for government to continue investing in its people and the mining sector. My office would ensure close monitoring of the works to see to it that sanity and safety of the operators prevails to avoid calamities,’’ he said.