THE Zambia Episcopal Conference has called for prudent management natural resources in view of continued increase in illicit financial flows currently at about US$3 billion annually.
Zambia Episcopal Conference secretary general Cleopas Lungu said that, like many other countries in the world, Zambia faces the challenge of ensuring that the extractive industry sector yields maximum benefits for the people and the environment.
Father Lungu was speaking in Lusaka at the 5th Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) under the theme, “Our natural resources our future: Extraction for sustainable development”.
“For many years now, we have had the unfortunate situation where the mining corporations have not adequately helped the poor communities in areas where they are operating. Paradoxically, while the mining companies have been making huge profits, the local communities have been adversely affected due to the mining activities,” he said.
He said mining is not only an economic and political issue but also for social justice, adding that this is simply because the mining activities can have a serious impact on the poor, the environment as well as future generations.
“Through this alternative mining indaba, we would like to call upon the so-called investors to adopt what one would call sustainable, ethical and responsible mining. Zambia needs mining companies that will respect people’s rights and will not force mines on people and communities who don’t want them. In the extractive industry, we must put people, and not money, first,” he said.
He also said mining should not dehumanise people but should instead help to uplift their dignity.
To achieve this, Fr Lungu said there is need for progressive policies and legislation.
Father Lungu urged the government to undertake necessary reforms in order to enhance accountable governance in the extractive industry.