Luapula Hydropower Corporation Limited directors and shareholders, who include Paramount Chiefs Chitimukulu and Mwata Kazembe, have been threatened with arrests for not surrendering two water permits which the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) cancelled last month for alleged irregular granting.
Luapula Hydropower Corporation Limited (LHCL) was granted water permits to put up electricity plants at Kabwelume and Kundabwika waterfalls through a consent judgment entered into with WARMA.
This was after a long standing battle for the water rights at the two waterfalls.
However, WARMA has written the LHCL, notifying it that the 25 year water rights have been cancelled as they were irregularly granted.
WARMA board chairman Dr Wilson Mwenya, in a letter to LHCL, stated that authority, at its meeting held on 6th August, 2020, established that the two water permits on numbers 10731 and 10732, issued to the company, were in contravention of the provisions of the WARMA Act No. 21 of 2011.
He said LHCL’s two permits were not granted by the WARMA Board of Directors, the only entity charged with the responsibility of granting water permits.
“Therefore, in terms of Section 86 (1)(c) of the Act, this serves as a notice for you to forthwith surrender the water permits 10731 and 10732 to WARMA. You are further requested to have the said permits surrendered to the Authority no later than seven days from receipt of this matter. Further, kindly note that in terms of section 86 (2) of the Act, a permit holder who fails to comply with the notice under section 86 (1) commit an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to the general penalty provided under section 172. We trust that you shall duly comply so as to avoid any inconvenience,” Dr Mwenya stated in the letter to LHCL.
The directors and shareholders of LHCL have been issued with summons to appear in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court today over the water rights matter, meaning the Chitimukulu, who is a shareholder on behalf of the BRE, together with Chief Mukupa Katandula, Chief Kapena of Nchelenge, Chief Mumpolokoso of Mporokoso, Chief Mushota of Kawambwa and Mwata Kazembe of Luapula Province are also likely to face similar criminal charges.
The company has since appealed the decision of WARMA to the minister.
It is the first time in Zambia’s history that a large project of this nature has taken a deliberate action in empowering the chiefs surrounding the project with actual shares for ownership to ensure they are actual partners in the implementation of development.