Chief Shaibila of the Lala people in Mkushi district has urged mining investors to ensure that they sign formal corporate social responsibility (CSR) terms documents with traditional leaders by the end of this month.
Chief Shaibila said the move is in tandem with efforts aimed at ensuring that communities in the chiefdoms benefit from the exploitation of minerals within their locality.
He observed during the Mining Indaba in Mkushi that the wealth derived from mining activities has often not benefited the communities in the chiefdoms.
Meanwhile, chief Chitina of the Swaka and Lala people stressed the need to include the participation and inputs of the chiefs in the efforts of protecting natural resources such as the forests and the rivers.
Chief Chitina said that he is aware that some mining activities have been impacting negatively on north Swaka as well as Mkushi head waters forest reserves.
He said the two forest reserves play an important role in maintaining environmental balance that ensures adequate water in rivers such as Lunsemfwa, Chibefwe and their off-shoot streams.
“These forests and rivers are crucial to the farming activities in which Mkushi provides 40 percent of the wheat in the country, as well as being amongst the leading producers of maize, soya bean crops,” he said.
Chief Chitina further said chiefs are best placed to harmonise socio-economic issues that may arise from some communities who get edible mushrooms and caterpillars from the forests.
He further noted that chiefs can play a major role in helping to curb the negative impact on rivers by siltation from dumping of mining waste.
And Mkushi District Commissioner (DC), Jonathan Kapungwe, has implored the District Development Coordination Committee (DDCC) to maximise participation in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
Mr Kapungwe said there is need to appreciate that the IDP is designed for local participation to develop solutions aimed at addressing current and projected challenges.
He said to this effect, the multi-sectoral composition of the DDCC would play an important role in providing data and other facts from the sector pillars that are connected with the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP).
He said the IDP is a critical intervention towards charting the development of the district using locally sourced solutions to local problems.
Meanwhile, Mkushi Council Chairperson, Melson Chilemu, said the essence of IDP planning format is to strengthen the local governance through capacity building.
Mr. Chilemu said this is manifest in the wide representation of the IDP forum, adding that there is representation from Ward Development Committees (WDCs), Ward Councillors, as well as the multi sector DDCC.
And Mkushi Council Secretary, Emmanuel Lukupwa, pointed out that the IDPs are unique as they have both the spatial as well as the sectoral aspects indicated in the plans.
Mr. Lukupwa explained that this implies that the IDP plan contains socio-economic and physical aspects in the respective framework.
He said the physical aspect is in reference to the spatial framework.
He has since thanked the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for funding the IDP training and forum in Mkushi district.
The IDP forum was attended by more than 70 participants who are drawn from governmental and non-governmental sectors, WDCs, Ward Councillors as well as traditional leaders namely chiefs Chitina, Shaibila and Mulungwe.