Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Strange “Shaking” illness hits Serenje


Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) has learnt that 35 people that work for a manganese processing plant in Serenje District shake continuously after developing a strange illness.

The victims are patiently waiting for a detailed medical report. CEJ Executive Director Maggie Mwape has since urged Workers Compensation Fund Control Board to respond immediately for compliance checks and negotiate for fair compensation.

She was speaking after visiting victims in Serenje District, Central Province, where CEJ is running a three year project dubbed Resilient Initiative for Sustainable Environment – RISE project. MS Mwape was concerned that the condition is suspected to have emerged from a toxic chemical used to enhance manganese grade of which constant exposure to manganese could have caused neurological degenerative condition.

The CEJ Executive Director indicated that victims complained to her that the condition was also affecting the nervous system resulting in erectile disfunction. Ms Mwape called for an evacuation abroad for specialized treatment of the victims.

“Workers get paid K1,700 with majority working as casual workers receiving K5 as over-time per hour,” she said.

Ms Mwape demanded for improved health and safety in processing plants in Serenje to save lives as workers were not receiving milk, personal protective equipment and did not get full salary payment while nursing a wound when injured at work.

“We demand that the Ministry of Health conducts urgent official tests on the victims and provide them with full detailed medical report on the condition,” she said.

Ms Mwape urged the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment to give a position on the said chemicals allegedly bought in Kabwe for use in Serenje which were not good for human health and the environment.

“Zambia Environmental Management Agency – ZEMA should go on the ground in Serenje to assess the situation than waiting for periodic reviews when the atmospheric conditions clearly show that most investors are irresponsible emitters,” she said.

The CEJ Executive Director challenged the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development to give an official statement on the manganese processing investors in Serenje.

“Without a doubt, we need mining investors, create a balance for the economy, environment and employment. But I must emphasize that we need responsible investors who shall respect the laws and regulations of the land, do not exploit our people and uphold human rights principles,” she said.

Ms Mwape wondered if the Foreign Missions accredited to Zambia were aware about the environmental and human rights violations happening in Serenje.

“We want to question the High Commissioner of India to Zambia and the Ambassador of China to Zambia on whether they are aware of the irresponsible behavior by some of their nationals and how they are damaging the reputation of their countries because such countries have good investors but some of those in Serenje cannot be entertained,” she said.
The CEJ Executive Director urged Government to strengthen due diligence to audit the background of investors through security wings because some of those operating in Serenje were shut down in their own countries for violating environmental laws, human rights and health.

“We demand for action on bad investment practices especially on the levels of pollution and damage to the environment coupled by the loss of inhabitants including human beings as seen in Serenje,” she said.

Ms Mwape urged the leadership in Serenje to unite as they handle the politically charged and tense processes adding that it was high time that those holding political positions became more responsible.

“We cannot have over 15 mineral processing plants without a single union to represent the interests of the workers and therefore, we call upon relevant stakeholders to go and register workers for union membership,” she said.

One of the victims whose identity has been withheld for fear of possible victimization informed CEJ that the condition is not curable adding that fair compensation would be ideal.



  1. It can not be shocking.
    Mining of Manganese is a well known fact that the dust could course certain disorder diseases, These facts are well laid down even by WHO.
    Careless in Mining should not be taken lightly.
    Safety measures is a must to avoid workers to inhale dust and consideration other measures for soothing.

  2. If they’re shaking maybe they have mashabe! They should ask Sangoma Mukulu Kayele Silumba sawMahalihali to throw some bones and find the cure.

  3. African leaders never learn at all. You have all these foreign fake investors in the country who don’t respect labor laws, use the Zambian workers like virtual slaves with no proper safety measures–and when the workers get sick, you feign surprise. The government needs to get serious with foreigners who come into the country, claiming to be investors. Make sure they’re following the stipulated labor laws and safety measures. If they’re not, terminate their contract and kick them out of the country. That’s the only way they’ll respect you and your people. Wake up!!!

  4. i think there more than 35 believe me I was there I worked there for about 8 months, I know absolutely everything you might want to know because a lot of people are affected it’s just the symptoms are not showing yet but they will in the next few months or years?

  5. This is no laughing matter. We have people who are paid to ensure that the integrity of the environment and safety/health of the workers are maintained.

    Most likely, the responsible officers are easily bribed and for thirty pieces of silver, they are willing to sacrifice their kith and kin.

    That is how cheap Zambian lives are and as long as our people have no respect for their fellow Zambians’ lives, do not expect foreigners to have any respect for us.

  6. The *****s in gouvernement. They pretty know those chemicals they are used to win minerals are in fact being used to wipe out the LALA tribe. We shall support their retiring into bushes to form armed resistance.

  7. ““Workers get paid K1,700 with majority working as casual workers receiving K5 as over-time per hour,” she said.”

    The current Kwacha to dollar exchange rate is $0,051.

    1,700 Kwacha = $86.70
    5 Kwacha = $0.255 or 25 cents.

    I presume the $86,70 is per month?

    I think a minimum wage the same level as the country the company is from would clear up a lot of the riff raff investors. After all, there is only one place they can come to and acquire Zambian minerals.

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