Editor's Comment

Integrity vital in mining sector

THE plea for integrity in the mining sector by the Minister of Mines Paul Kabuswe calls for deeper reflection among various players. For a long time now the sector has been dogged by misconduct among some stakeholders to the detriment of its reputation as a major contributor to Zambia’s gross domestic product (GDP). Undeniably, the behaviour of some businessmen in the mining value chain needs to be checked so that there can be sanity in the sector. Corrupt practices need to be nipped in the bud to allow a level playing field for every Zambian in mining activities. Revelations by the minister that there is greed among business people who feed from mining activities confirm the fact that the majority of people in mining towns are wallowing in poverty when they should be enjoying the benefits from the mines in their vicinity. The spectre of cartels in the mining sector has denied a lot of Zambians opportunities to participate in mining activities. It is not everyone who can be employed in the mines. Others have been trying to do business with the mines but are being blocked by the cartels. Those sub-contracted by the mines should not monopolise business in the sector by not allowing new players to participate in mining activities. President Hakainde Hichilema has made it clear that every Zambian should have a chance to participate in mining activities. The economic growth of the country needs more private sector players to contribute to the development of the country. In fact, the relevance of the newly-created Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises is to a larger extent dependent on the organised and all-inclusive private sector. The country will continue losing its mineral resources to foreigners if the private sector promotes disorder and discrimination of other Zambians who want to do business with the mines. In this respect, we commend the minister for bringing the unfairness in the sector to the attention of the Zambia Chamber of Commerce so that members can be advised against being greedy. Mine owners should also be transparent in their dealings with the private sector so that no-one is marginalised in the quest for business opportunities.
We urge investors in the mines to take heed of the minister’s call for discipline between them and local players to ensure sanity in the sector. Every Zambian willing to play a part in mining activities should be given space to attain growth in private sector participation. Exclusion of some players in the mining sector will only impede the efforts government is making to boost the country’s economy through the private sector. Indiscipline and lack of order in the mining sector have also given rise to criminality where some groups of people engage in shady dealings to capitalise on others. There are fearful forces in the mining sector such as the Jerabos, who should not be tolerated to continue intimidating other players because every Zambian has the right to participate in mining. Given this situation, we urge law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on such gangs so that there is a level playing field in the mining sector. This is the time youth in mining regions must be given an opportunity to play a pivotal role in the mine supply chain to improve their livelihoods and those of their communities. It is sad that such areas are lagging behind in development because only a few people are monopolising business with the mines. We urge those who want to participate in mining activities to take advantage of President Hichilema’s pronouncement made during his address to Parliament recently that every Zambian has the right to participate in mining activities. It is also important that chiefs in areas where there are mining activities emphasise to investors that local people should not be neglected in the supply chain as most of the time such opportunities are given to outsiders with money. The quest for Zambia’s economic development lies in a conducive business environment for all as espoused by government. It also depends on inclusiveness.

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