NKOLE MULAMBIA, Ndola
MINISTER of Higher Education Nkandu Luo says she will soon engage ZCCM-IH and ministries of Mines and Commerce on proposals by workers at Gemstone Processing and Lapidary Training Centre (GPLTC) in Ndola to ban the export of rough gemstones and establishment of a local gemstone exchange.
And Government will issue a statutory instrument (SI) to allow Northern Technical College (NORTEC) merge with the GPLTC by the end of the first quarter of this year.
Professor Luo said consultations with relevant authorities will determine Governmentâ€™s position on the way forward on the proposal to ban exports of rough gemstones and setting up of a local gemstone exchange.
â€œWe need to engage the chief executive officer at ZCCM-IH, ministries of Mines and Commerce to see the best way forward. We will discuss what has gone wrong regarding the gemstone industry,â€ she said.
Prof Luo said this when she addressed workers at the lapidary training centre in Ndola on Friday.
She also tasked officials at her ministry to quickly work on a draft SI that should be submitted to the Ministry of Justice for approval.
Ear l ier, GPLTC finance manager Moses Zimba said there is need for Government to consider proposals submitted to ZCCH-IH.
Mr Zimba said the proposals, which include banning exports of rough gemstone and setting up a local gemstone exchange, will stimulate growth of the industry.
â€œWe have potential as a country in the gemstone industry and we need to engage ourselves to expand the extractive industry which requires support from Government by way of policy change,â€ he said.
He also urged Government through Kagem Mining to help provide high value materials such as emeralds to the institution for training purposes.
Other workers called on Government for change of policy on exports of rough gemstone by increasing tax to discourage export of rough gemstones to help grow the local industry.
They also urged Government to expedite the process of merging the two institutions to help them be viable.
The GPLTC, which operates as a separate entity from NORTEC, provides skills training in gemstone processing, marketing and manufacture of jewelry.
Since its inception, it has trained over 400 people in cutting and polishing gemstones, gemology, basic jewelry and entrepreneurship.
And MWILA NTAMBI reports that Prof Luo has directed management at the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe to come up with a programme to enable all students participate in cleaning their hostels and surroundings once a month.
Speaking to journalists shortly after a tour of the CBU Riverside campus in Kitwe on Saturday, Professor Luo said she is disappointed with the way students are keeping their hostels.
She said hanging litter bins and clothes on the wall gives a bad impression about CBU, especially to first-time visitors to the institution of higher learning.
â€œStudents must look after our facilities and guard them jealously. It is sad that as Zambians, we have settled for the culture of dirt and think it is okay,â€ Prof Luo said.
The minister urged CBU management to ensure that students are not only taught to pass examinations but to also learn the overall development of an individual that will help them in life beyond offices and workplaces.
Prof Luo said she and CBU management have agreed to reserve at least one Saturday each month which students will use to participate in cleaning their surroundings to improve the environment in which they live.
She said she and other senior members of staff in her ministry will also participate in cleaning at least one institution of higher learning either in Lusaka or any other town of their choice.
â€œAnd I will push this idea into our policy as a ministry so that as we revise the policy, it will be included,â€ she said.
And Copperbelt University Students Union (COBUSU) president Alfred Lukwesa supported Prof Luoâ€™s proposal to promote cleanliness at CBU.
â€œWe agree that the institution needs to be kept clean and as a union, we are also doing our part. We have recently launched a sanitation awareness campaign,â€ he said.
He said places will be identified within the university where bins will be placed to discourage indiscriminate throwing of litter.
NKOLE MULAMBIA, Ndola