President Hakainde Hichilema has terminated the contract of Mooya Lumamba as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development. The termination comes after several government officials were implicated in the illegal mining and export of Sugelite gemstones from Muombe Mine in Sub-Chief Kunda-Mfumu chiefdom in Chembe district.
In a statement issued to the media by Chief Communications Specialist, Clayson Hamasaka, President Hichilema thanked Mr Lumamba for his services rendered to government and wished him well for the future. “The President has decided to terminate the contract of Mr Mooya Lumamba with immediate effect pursuant to the provision of Article 92 as read with Article 270 of the Constitution of Zambia,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, former Ambassador to Ethiopia, Emmanuel Mwamba, has called for a comprehensive investigation into the illegal mining and export of Sugelite gemstones from Muombe Mine. Speaking to journalists, Mwamba expressed concern about the alleged involvement of government officials in the scandal. “We want to know who provided police security for three weeks when the illegal operations and illegal mining were taking place,” he said.
Mwamba also questioned the role of Bayarn Company, the current owner of the mine, in the scandal. “The company currently holds mineral exploration rights. What was their role?” he asked.
Last year, UPND Deputy National Chairperson for Administration Stephen Chikota had a confrontation with police in Muombe area following his attempt to force his way to the mining site. Chikota accused Luapula Minister and Cabinet Ministers from Lusaka of abetting illegal mining of Sugelite gemstones. “Instead of the government investigating Chikota’s allegations, they concentrated on criminalizing Chikota’s trespass action at the mine,” Mwamba noted.
President Hichilema has yet to respond to the calls for a comprehensive investigation into the illegal mining and export of Sugelite gemstones from Muombe Mine. However, Mwamba believes that the recent actions against public officials are a knee-jerk and belated reaction to a long-standing problem of illegal mining and theft of the mineral. “The President has failed to attend to the credible reports that the mine owner and Cabinet Ministers were allegedly engaged in illegal mining and export of the rare gemstones,” he added.
The termination of Mooya Lumamba’s contract comes after the President also fired five other senior government officials over the scandal. As investigations into the matter continue, it remains to be seen what other actions the government will take to address the issue of illegal mining and theft of mineral resources in Zambia.