Copperbelt residents have called on President Hakainde Hichilema to make a quick decision regarding the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Mopani Copper Mines, both of which have been facing challenges. This comes after the previous government placed KCM under liquidation, leading to hardships for many Copperbelt residents who depended on the mines for their livelihoods.
Residents from various districts in Copperbelt demanded that the government take action to boost the economy of the Copperbelt and the country as a whole. The residents claimed that returning KCM to Vedanta Resources, the former owner of the mine, would be a step in the right direction as the asset needs recapitalization.
Church leaders in Kitwe echoed these sentiments, stating that the challenges faced by the mines have resulted in adverse poverty for local people. Pastor Charles Chileshe noted that prostitution and divorces are skyrocketing on the Copperbelt because people don’t have any source of income as the mines are not performing accordingly.
Many youths are also engaging in illicit activities because of a lack of employment opportunities, said Sydney Banda from Mufulira. Mary Phiri from Wusakile, Kitwe, added that people on the Copperbelt depend on mines for survival, and since many of them have lost jobs, life has been harsh for them.
Kitwe-based clergyman Pastor Simon Kiboko appealed to the government to open up the mining sites to improve the country’s economy. “Even us as the church, we are affected knowing too well that the sources of income for the people have been affected hence the need for the government to act fast on this matter,” he said.
The residents are still waiting for the government’s promise to find a solution to the problem in the first quarter of 2023. Christopher Nkhata from Chililabombwe said the people of Copperbelt are eagerly waiting for the government’s decision.
The residents hope that President Hichilema will ensure that the Minister in charge speeds up the process of making the mines productive again. With the Copperbelt’s economy heavily dependent on mining, the residents believe that the government must act fast to revive the struggling mines to improve the livelihoods of the people in the region.