A consortium of civil society organizations on Thursday appealed to the Zambia government to consider revoking a license granted to some Australian investors to start mining operations in a national park.
A debate is raging in Zambia following revelations that an Australian investor, Mwembeshi Resources Limited, has been granted permission to go ahead and start mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park following a court decision.
While the government has stated that it will hold internal consultations before coming up with a position, stakeholders feel that the project should be halted because it will not only affect wildlife but biodiversity as well.
On Wednesday, the country’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda said mining operations in the park poses a huge threat on wildlife and the ecosystem, adding that the park has supported generations of Zambians hence the need to protect it.
In a statement, the 14 civil society organizations said the decision to grant permission for mining operations in a national park should be condemned.
“As civil society organizations and citizens of this great nation, we feel duty bound to appeal to government to enforce their powers and revoke the licenses that permit mining in national parks for the sake of safeguarding the environment. There is need for urgent intervention by those in power to ensure we are acting in the best interest of our country which is not only for the current generation but also for future generations,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
The statement noted that the current debate on the mining investment in the national park makes sad reading in a country where there are clear policies and regulations governing the conservation of the natural resources.
Allowing mining in the Lower Zambezi is not a demonstration of commitment to sustain nature and mitigate the impact of climate change as mining comes with rampant activities such as cutting down of trees which are a huge component of the ecosystem.
According to the statement, it was sad that the country continues to fall short in terms of appreciating the benefits of our natural habitats an ecosystem values.
The Lower Zambezi National Park is one of four national parks that generate up to 90 percent of Zambia’s non-consumptive wildlife tourism revenues.
In 2013, the country’s environmental protector rejected an application by the Australian firm for mining operations in the park but the firm appealed to the government who granted the go ahead. Enditem