By Michael Kaluba
The Mine-Workers Union of Zambia –MUZ- has lamented the level of benefits that foreigners such as Chinese nationals are getting from small scale and artisanal mining operations including the black mountain in Kitwe, at the expense of Zambians.
MUZ President Joseph Chewe says while Zambians toil and earn peanuts from their operations, it is Chinese, Lebanese and Indian buyers among other foreigners, who are benefiting more from the export market of minerals while Zambians continue to languish in poverty.
Making these remarks today in Kitwe during a stakeholder’s consultation meeting on the formulation of policies on artisanal and small scale mining in Zambia, Mr. Chewe pointed out that there is need to create a legal framework that will protect the interests of vulnerable groups involved in small scale mining
He explained that the 423 artisanal mining rights and the 494 small scale mining licenses are underutilized while foreigners have taken advantage of the poor majority hence the need for these locals to get union representation for better working conditions, alleviate poverty and create wealth.
And Labour Commissioner Givens Muntengwa through his assistant Charles Muwowo said the lack of a minimum wage in the mining sector has left workers in the artisanal and small scale sectors vulnerable hence the need for practical steps to find solutions to challenges faced by these vulnerable groups.
The stakeholders’ consultation is aimed at developing an action plan on creating a legal framework and policies that will create a decent working environment, unionize workers and protect local small scale and artisanal miners and workers.