Editorial

Removing illegal gold miners

THE country has been confronted with the issue of foreigners invading gold mining areas and this has got everyone pointing fingers and blaming authorities.
Zambians see the discovery of gold in almost every part of the country, as act of “heavenly” intervention to reverse the nation’s economic misfortunes.
Gold is a valuable mineral whose selling price is nothing to sneeze and it is from this point of view that many Zambians feel that this discovery has come at the right time to help the country over its economic malaise.
It is therefore from this understanding that Zambians want to ensure that the gold is indeed mined to help the government manage the economy and also help hosting communities improve their livelihoods.
Many are also hoping to use the gold rush to change their status in life. Such is the hope that the yellow stone is giving to Zambians and hence the excitement about the mineral.
It is like everyone wants a stake in the gold mining and the reason the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development, Mr Barnaby Mulenga, has asked locals to be vigilant and fish out the foreigners who want to plunder the resource.
The authorities are being blamed for seemingly entertaining foreigners who have invaded the gold mining areas.
However, now Government has told local communities in gold mining areas to play a big role in safeguarding the resource. Mr Mulenga has told the locals to effect citizen’s arrest of foreigners invading their areas for purposes of mining gold illegally.
Yesterday, we carried a story of a Chinese national captured through a citizen’s arrest effected by Rufunsa locals. The man was picked from a mining site and handed over to police for processing.
This is as it should be. Locals and police should work together to ensure that sanity is restored in the gold mining sector.
Mr Mulenga said the areas with gold were vast for security wings to effectively monitor and that hosting communities must always effect a citizen’s arrests on those found mining illegally.
Government has also praised the vigilance shown by Rufunsa communities against illegal gold miners who were being flushed out.
He said in an interview yesterday that it was not possible for security personnel to be present at all gold sites because the areas were vast and there was need therefore for communities to take the responsibility of protecting the resource.
We know from official records that 92 percent of artisan gold licences are held by Zambians but it is these same citizens that invite foreigners into partnerships.
Foreign nationals that include Chinese, Tanzanians and Ugandans have flooded many gold sites illegally exploiting the resource at will.
This development has local traditional leadership worried and some like, Senior headman Nyampande, John Mambo, are leading the fight to ensure gold mining benefits local people.
They have since asked Government to provide guidelines on setting up more cooperatives so that the gold mining is done in an organised manner.
This is all well and good, but we want to appeal to those locals with artisan licences not to go behind their friends’ backs and invite foreigners into illegal partnerships.
We think that cooperatives would be the best way to ensure locals benefit and this should therefore be encouraged.

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