Editor's Comment

Jerabos must prove their worth


THE celebrations that characterised Kitwe on Tuesday by small-scale miners popularly known as Jerabos was justified. The wild celebrations marked the end of the long-drawn battle between the jerabos and authorities over management of the Black Mountain.
Kitwe, where jerabos fought running battles with police over the access to the black mountain, was peaceful yesterday.
The acrimony between jerabos and the law enforcement agencies is over. A new page has been opened on the Copperbelt in general and Kitwe in particular.
The cessation of the hostilities is the culmination of dialogue between representatives of the small-scale miners, the State and other stakeholders.
The Black Mountain, an old dump site of copper residue has been a source of livelihoods by mostly youths scavenging from the area.
Due to old technology deployed by the mines, there was still some copper left in the dump site.
Local people (later known as jerabos) started scavenging for the remains using orthodox methods.
Later on, established companies applied for the sites and started using technology to harvest more.
The coming on board of established companies stirred controversy as they started chasing the locals from scavenging.
However, the Patriotic Front administration has heard the cry of the youths and has intervened after fruitful dialogue among stakeholders.
Under the deal brokered by State House, the locals will be allowed to continue scavenging from the Black Mountain after being given a stake of 10 percent of the site.
Allowing local people to continue scavenging from the site demonstrates Government’s desire to empower the youths.
Beyond celebrations, the local people should take advantage of the 10 percent stake they have been given to acquire licences and begin to operate legally.
They should also take advantage of Government’s goodwill to hasten in registering companies or cooperatives.
They should also begin to comply with the laws of the land by paying tax just like any other tax compliant firms.
Premium is now on the Small Scale Miners Association of Zambia to work with its members to transform from illegality to legality and cleanse their business which has for a long time been considered rogue.
Despite being small-scale miners, jerabos should start adhering to safety issues by ensuring that those who mine wear appropriate gear when mining.
They should therefore engage the Mine Safety Department to advise how to go about operating with safety in mind.
Gone should be the days when people they engage to mine will get buried.
Government has done its part by helping small-scale miners to access the Black Mountain and the onus is on them to do what is expected of them.

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