The Council of Churches in Zambia have some important words to share with you as you celebrate the past and look forward to a brighter tomorrow :
It is our firm belief that Zambia is indeed a rich country with abundant human and natural resources. God our creator has blessed this nation with bountiful mineral resources which have a universal destination and are meant to serve the common good. We therefore need to be responsible stewards of God’s creation.
We can with satisfaction recall that on the eve of Independence 1964, the new Zambian Government secured arrangements that guaranteed that the rich mineral resources of this country could be made available for the improvement of all the people of Zambia. While it is true that our nationalised mining industry had over the years a mixed history of efficiency and inefficiency, at least the principle had been established that Zambian resources should be exploited for the benefit of all Zambian citizens.
Unfortunately, since the privatisation of the mines required by the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), this principle has not been respected. Often times, contracts have been secretly negotiated, advantages have been disproportionably awarded to foreign investors, environmental regulations have been postponed or poorly implemented, accountability has been compromised and a fair tax regime has not been put in place. At the same time, we insist that the government puts in place a legal framework that safeguards the safety and interests of workers who often seem to be mistreated by some investors. These concerns need to be urgently addressed by the government, the investors and all the key stake-holders.
We are also disappointed that the Government has steadfastly refused to offer what we and many others in the country could consider a credible defense for not taxing the mining industry in an equitable fashion. Proposals for a fair “windfall tax” have been summarily dismissed. There is need to explore mechanisms of transparency and accountability regarding tax payments currently being made by mining companies. We therefore call upon the President to summon a national “indaba” for a public evaluation of our current taxing regimes with the view of promoting greater efficiency and equity.
Moreover, serious concerns are currently being raised about the safety of uranium mining in Zambia, concerns that have not been adequately addressed by the Government. These concerns deserve fairer treatment and should not be dismissed as coming from ignorant or politically inspired sources. We call upon Government to design and publish specific guidelines on mining safety, health and protection of the environment that oblige uranium mining companies to protect communities and mine workers from the harmful effects of radio-active mining.
I continue to be impressed with how many of things we have be pushing for a long time are now being echoed by everyone. You can read the whole thing here.