Opinion

OPINION: What Lessons Should We Draw From The Gold Mining Saga?

You are encouraged to read the entire article if you wish to appreciate what has motivated me to share with you this opinion. But first of all, do allow me to start with what the leader of the biggest opposition party in the country, Mr. Hichilema, has posted over the gold mining saga. He wrote, “Hypocrisy is talking about empowering Zambians on one hand while on the other, you are giving away a precious resource like a gold mine to foreigners for a song. Bally will fix it. HH.” I am equally against gold mining rights being granted to any foreigner but let’s be sober over this very sensitive national issue because what Zambians deserve is the truth and I am of the view that Mr. Hichilema has chosen to mislead the nation for political expedience.

Firstly, government has not sold any gold mine whatsoever to any foreign firm and for a song. A foreign company, Karma Mining Services, came to Zambia, applied for a prospecting or exploration licence for gold and it was given, in line with the current laws of our country. Now that it has found the precious mineral resource, it has every right to apply for a mining license and start mining operations in accordance with the provisions of the mining licence which it applied for and equally got. It would be daylight robbery on the part of Zambia to hault its operations at this stage after having obtained licencing fees.

Secondly, the amount Mr. Hichilema, a learned economist, is referring to, as selling a mine for a song, is not a selling price but the estimated mining operations cost by the company based on the investment it is ready to start with. This money is not going to government. Government’s proceeds from Karma Mining Services are strictly limited to licensing fees for now and taxes when Consolidated Gold Company Zambia (CGCZ) starts its mining operations.

ZCCM-IH has not sold any mine to Karma Mining Services but rather has invested in Karma, an offer it would have refused if it had so desired. Given that Karma is an international company with other business assets elsewhere and ZCCM-IH’s interest being specifically in the proceeds from its gold operations in Zambia, the two firms decided to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), the CGCZ, in which ZCCM-IH owns 45% and Karma Mining Services owns 55%. Had ZCCM-IH not invested in Karma Mining Services, you probably would not have heard about the operations of Karma Mining Services’ gold operations in Zambia and government’s income from its operations would have been limited to taxes whilst now, it’s equally a shareholder.

Today, every Zambian who has shown displeasure at the government’s awarding of the mining licence to Karma must be ready to get a healthy share of the blame too. It should categorically be stated that there is currently no law that prohibits a foreigner from engaging in gold mining in Zambia and so any unilateral decision by government to stop the operations of CGCZ will not only be illegal but will send a very bad message to the international business community and may suffocate future Foreign Direct Investment. So instead of misleading the nation, what should Mr. Hichilema, and maybe the rest of the opposition, do?

He must refrain from using UPND MPs as his “special purpose vehicle” to attain his political ambitions but rather see them and encourage them to be people’s representatives. When Parliament resumes, let him ask them to take our voice to Parliament about our desire to restrict mining rights of selected mineral resources to only Zambians. We must be a country of laws, prioritising result oriented debates over the current political rhetoric. Let him make an appointment with President Edgar Lungu, away from the eyes of social media, to debate legislation on what must be done by Zambians and what foreigners may apply for.

Of late, I have spent a lot of time explaining how the current political system has failed us since the collapse of the one party participatory democracy. It’s very clear that the purpose of the opposition in this setup is to gain power at any cost even if it means misleading the masses. That’s not the meaning of democracy. The word democracy, which derives from the Greek word “demos” meaning “the people”, means people participating in the important societal decisions which affect their lives.

But since in the actual setup, each individual cannot meaningfully participate in decisions for the whole, it has come to mean decision-making by “MPs”, who are said to decide and act on behalf of the people. So let’s put it on record that Mr. Hichilema’s failure to provide proper checks and balances, is at the centre of some of the important issues we have relegated to being only social media topics. It’s very clear that Mr. Hichilema’s interest in this is to gain political mileage ahead of the 2021 General Elections instead of prioritising what Zambians need beyond the 2021 General Elections. Politics should not be a self preservation tool but a vehicle for development.

Government is composed of both the ruling party and the opposition political parties. Let the opposition own up and take responsibility by providing proper checks and balances. They can choose to complain or provide solutions. They say if choose to hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to flyo. It’s all a matter of choice.

Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa
WhatsApp: +260 977 430702

15 Comments

  1. Tititit

    To begin with, the government should have been aware of the Gold Deposits in the area where Khama mining was offered the license. When was the license given and who authorised it before assessing the economic benefits it has to uplift lives of Zambians?
    What people are worried about is the constant of giving the main bedroom to a foreigner and the children sharing a pantry room. Ba Mwewa, before you try to convince us, have you given thought to how much money shall be externalised? Besides, why worry about what the international community will say if we know we are making decisions in the interest of our fellow citizens. If it can be done with KCM, it can be done with that Khama

  2. PIQUE

    there is no need of looking at the political leaders to be biased but let us pray to God for guidance coz this is the cradle of political decline in zambia.

  3. Ironman

    In the court of hynaz no sheep will win a case continue scavenging the economys coporse…

  4. Lolo

    HH is right in his political analysis concerning the issuance of the mining license to foreigners instead of doing it ourselves! Embrace HH’s ideas!

  5. Mkwasu

    Zambia is a country that makes weak Investment laws and later blame the government for doing business under those laws. We beg for investors, give them all sorts of incentives. When they bring their money and in good faith we call them infestors! Is we do not want foreign investment we should change our Investment Act and ensure it caters for the concerns HH seems to be riding on. There is even more gold in Mali, the DRC which investors can easily go to. We sold KCM for a paltry USD 25 million because we are not able to invest and run it as Zambians. Dont blame ECL. Look at the Investment Act and bring it before parliament but do not always think every investor is bad for the country.

  6. Truth man

    First, empower the Zambians by giving them prospecting licences. You don’t have to hound Zambian nationals from prospecting a natural resource in their own backyard. Let the Zambians own their wealth. Look at the emerald mines which have made foreigners more richer than the owners of this country. The west Africans in this country have made it big, when we saw them coming here as a poor lot ,living in shanty compounds around Kitwe. Today these people have built mansions and invested in various businesses using their Zambian wives ‘ names.They aquired the money through buying emeralds illegally. Allow the indigenous people to prospect and mine the gold before bringing in foreigners. Arresting prospectors carrying out an activity without teaching them how to legally do it is not going to help people. This matter will just make the government unpopular. After all, what does empowering the people mean if government cannot let Zambians prospect for wealth in their country. The writing above by the writer shall not help any sensible Zambian.

  7. Mischisha

    i do not understand why some of our brothers like twisting straight forward issues; On the JV of ZCCM – IH and Karma, it is clear Karma had started earlier investing in Gold Exploration and Mining and like one of my brother has said Karma could have go it alone without ZCCM-IH but because the Govement has Power and a FEEL for People they have forced their way in Karma and regulate the Mineral Gold Mining.
    What HH must do is the government of Zambia is not stopping anyone from partnering in Extraction or Mining of the Mineral with all his money it is not late he can go and join any Greenfield mine with villagers and start mining after mining give Gold to ZCCM – IH who will sell it and Pay HH his Money its free to who have the money and all

  8. Mischisha

    HH and any Zambian who may desires to invest in Gold Mining in Zambia is welcome the Goverment is not going to stop him; actually the Goverment and the people of Zambia through its ZCCM – IH are looking for People like HH who has some money and mining connections to partner with its unfortunate if HH can be in the forefront to peddle lies againist such a goodwill for the Zambian People from the Goverment

  9. Angoni

    Leta empower the Zambians to run the mines which in turn will lead to the economic growth of the Nation.HH has a point here its only that he does not realize that he is also in government through his MPS. HH encourage your MPS to make laws in Parliament that will prioritize Zambians unlike encouraging them to leave parliament otherwise show it parliament and not on social media. VIVA ZAMBIANS FIRST.

  10. Kansime

    I see so much mediocrity both in the article and these many comments. This country and it’s politicians are so irritating!
    This nation needs a person with a military background to make things right. These civilian government officials and politicians, both ruling and opposition, are a curse of this country.
    Idiocy is too much in our Nation. We missed the opportunity to have Brig Gen Godfrey Miyanda to rule this Nation. By today, this Nation would have direction instead of this nonsense we are being subjected to right now.
    Most of the tuma comments I see here are childish and irritating, to say the least.
    God help us.

  11. Kansime

    This country is cursed with a curse!
    We need to pray for God’s intervention, else we are doomed.

  12. CTC

    We must learn to read and understand these issues before we rely on politicians like hh for lies. Karma actually have a mineral processing licence in Rufunsa and will be getting ore from small scale miners who are 95% Zambian. The Kasenseli mine in N/W is the bigger project which will be run by ZCCM-IH alone and involves mining and processing.

  13. Juass

    What prospecting are you talking about and why foreigners is there a Zambian company given a mining right in any country in Africa if not.there should be wrong with our thinking we give outsiders priorities whilst they insult us externalies the money and you are busy justifying that is rubbish.let the Zambians be empowered we have people who can prospect give them the licenses.

  14. grey

    too much ma cruks pa zed,thats why poverty will never end

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