Misery of people on Copperbelt after ZCCM shocking-CCZ

 The Council of Churches (CCZ) church leaders have described as shocking and appalling the state of former ZCCM mine houses in Mufulira’s Kankoyo and Butondo townships.’

The church leaders have also demanded that the ministries of mines and health send experts to examine the negative effects of aggressive mining methods on the lives of the residents of Kankoyo and Butondo townships in Mufulira.

 The CCZ church leaders who have just returned from touring the Copperbelt towns of Mufulira, Kitwe and Chingola, have described as shocking the kind of lives the people of Mufulira were currently living. The CCZ was in the copperbelt from 11th -15th October to meet with their church members, civic leaders and the mines on the state of mine houses and the quality of mine lives. Of the two mines, the CCZ team had a fruitful meeting with management from Konkola Copper Mines while the Mopani Copper Mines management was not available for a meeting. CCZ under the Extractive Industry programme, promotes corporate social responsibility and accountability by mines urging mines to disclose taxes they pay to government and the levies they give the local council so that the residents can take to task their local councils and government officials.

 “The two townwnships hit by heavy pollution from the smelters and acid leaching plants are Kankoyo and Butondo. These townships experiences clouds and early morning showers of acid which have resulted in houses and plants being burnt. Even the people have their respiratory systems affected by this,” explained CCZ Secretary General, Rev. Suzanne Matale.

“Most houses are cracking from the effects of blasting and pouring of acids into the ground by the mines in Mufulira. The earth trembles and stones come flying in the direction of houses making the residents live in constant fear of these mine activities,” said Rev. Matale.

 The residents of these two mine townships expressed willingness to be relocated to another place where they can live a peaceful and healthy lifestyle.

CCZ Board Vice President Bishop Samson Kipaila said “The misery you see in the faces of the people of the copperbelt is so touching that you wonder why government is not doing something about this. You cannot have people fear to sleep in their houses because the ground might open up and swallow them in the night. You cannot have people keep indoors because of fear that the acid fumes will burn their faces. The water they drink is so heavy with metals that it cannot even cook beans. Residents now buy water for cooking beans.”

Rev. Saulos Phaika of United Presbyterian Church said “The open sewers flowing with fecal matter in Kankoyo are a health hazard to women and children of these communities. Seeing one child wade through that dirty water made my heart bleed, don’t we have leaders that can do something about this? Where is the water and sewerage company and where is the ministry of Health?”

Colonel Bislom Hanunka of the Salvation Army said “These people are worse off than refugees. Their lives are full of suffering that you wonder who is better off between them and the refugees. There is need to dialogue with the Mines, local councils and the government to find a better solution for these people. They are so fed up with their lives that they want someone to provide a better solution for them.”

Rev. Andrew Chulu of UCZ said “A desert has started developing in Butondo. The environmental council and other wings of government need to pay particular attention to the effects of heavy mining activities on the copperbelt.

Rev. Michael Gondwe of African Methodist Church said “Government has to do something about our people on the copperbelt. We cannot allow our brothers to live in constant fear of the earth falling on them and in fear of their lungs being destroyed by the fumes from the smelters. Even the state of recreation facilities is appalling. Shinde Stadium looks like elephants play there and Chawama hall has now been turned into a drinking place for youths instead of a place of sport and games. We need a return to recreational facilities that will keep the young busy and occupied.”

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