Establishing community trusts key to developing communities

EVANS Ngoma.

BY AND large we need developed, empowered, self-sustaining communities as a way of reducing the burden on our already stretched fiscus that has a lot of national developmental agenda at hand.

This is worth noting so that as communities especially in areas with abundant natural resources, we need and must benefit from those resources.
The issue of how do we fund these community trusts and secondly what sustainability mechanisms if any can be put in place to ensure that these trusts don’t collapse.
On the issue of funding, the existing status quo in most mining communities are that companies have what they term corporate social responsibility (CSR), which the corporate affairs team manage and help only to an extent that their budget allocation allow firstly, secondly to the preferences and discretion of the mining firm.
This presents a challenge of unequal distribution of the money to an extent that not everyone within the community benefits and more importantly, there are criterias for beneficiaries be it on scholarships etc.
But if we look at the value of the given resources versus the corporate social responsibility budgets, the scale is twisted and the facts are that private entities that seek to maximise their returns. In all this, one undeniable fact is our resources are being extracted and will not recover them what so ever and the big question is in 50 years, what will the generations to come survive on if these companies down scale or are out of business.
The answer is nothing at all and will remain poorer with competition for stretched fiscus even higher.
How then should we fund our trusts? The answer lies in what we have which is rightly ours, the mineral resource. That belongs to Zambia and more specifically to the communities in which they are.
The minerals have a value which is why multi-nationals invest significant huge amounts of money on technology, human capital and expertise in order to extract valuable resource.
To that extent, our trusts must be funded by value of minerals to be extracted. We can put value using exploration charts and figures which I believe are available in all these ventures and the figure can be a percentage say 10 percentage of our mineral value.
This amount of money can go a long way to help develop the socio-economic status of the said communities without necessarily putting pressure on treasury.
This does not mean then that the mining firms will not pay all applicable taxes, they should and must for the development of the country which they are operating in.
In my home area of Lundazi, we are fortunate enough to discover gold deposits.
As a community we need to benefit from such discovery merely beyond the construction of gravel road, which is being done as a way of accessing the area but it needs to be tarred for the long term benefit of future generation and the source of the funds are our gold deposits.
We need good schools, health facilities, clean drinking water (boreholes) other than employment being offered to a few.
How do we ensure sustenance?
Till then, God bless but it needs you and I to develop ourselves. We have the God given resources and within our sovereign spheres thus must develop using them.
One Zambia, One Nation.
The author is founder of the BuyZed campaign Zambia.

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