What you need to know about Lower Zambezi park scandal

What you need to know about Lower Zambezi park scandal

👉🏾It is no longer a legal matter. Judges have made their decision and as usual have sided with money not the people

👉🏾 It’s now a social, moral and environmental issue which you and I should join KK to defend

On 23 October 2019, High Court judge Charles Chanda allowed an Australian mining firm to turn Lower Zambezi National Park into an open pit mine. We wonder why a normal Zambian would do that? His fellow High Court Judge Mubanga Kondolo refused to allow Australian-owned mine Zambezi Resources Limited to damage Zambezi National Park by turning it into a mine.

That was in 2014.

This is what happened.

In 2011, the PF regime gave Zambezi Resources Limited a 25-year permit to prospect and mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Don’t be misled by the name “Zambezi’. It has nothing to do with Zambians. The project was to be called Kangaluwi and aimed at building an opencast mine in the park. Now, the Lower Zambezi National Park is a formally protected area and part of the Zambezi River’s catchment zone. It is also across the river from Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, a world heritage site.

At the end of this article, read what first president Kaunda says about the history and importance of the Lower Zambezi National Park and why he declared it. Protected area.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the Lower Zambezi National Park as a category two protected area. This means it must be maintained for “ecosystem protection” and recreation, according to Mail & Guardian Newspaper.

In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation encouraged the Zambian government to apply to make the park a world heritage site – this would then create a trans-boundary park with Mana Pools.

When, in 2011, the PF regime gave the Australian company the licence to prospect and later starting mining, the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) stepped in. On 5th September 2012, ZEMA rejected the project Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In simple language, ZEMA rejected the idea of mining in the lower Zambezi. ZEMA is a specialised government agency. Its technical advice is supposed to be adhered to by the government. The matter should have died here.

But no. Politicians came on board.

On 17th January 2014, the PF cabinet disregarded and overrode ZEMA. Cabinet through hen Minister of Land, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Harry Kalaba issued licence No. 15547-HQ-LML to Mwembeshi Resources Ltd, a subsidiary of an Australian company, Zambezi Resources Limited (ZRL). Government, through minister Kalaba had argued that opening a mine in the park would create jobs. But environmentalists rubbished government arguments saying while the mine would have created 250 jobs, more than 800 people were employed in local tourism. The mine would “lead to significant loss in tourism operations”.
But the licence was in effect and the Australians were about to move their machinery to start opening the national Park and displace animals, birds and trees.

Concerns citizens went to court. On 18th February 2014, Lusaka High Court Judge Mubanga Kondolo granted the concerned citizens an exparte injunction to stop the Australians from embarking on the mine. This was a one-sided judgment. It needed the other party, the Australians, to be heard as well. Therefore, on April 4 2014, Judge Kondolo heard from the concerned citizens and Zambezi Resources of Australia.

After hearing the arguments, Judge Kondolo maintained that mining can’t proceed. In upholding the decision on Friday April 4, 2014, Judge Mubanga Kondolo said that the damage to the environment that the project would cause was a matter of public concern and interest which affects all people born and unborn.

Mr Justice Kondolo said that if he lifted the stay of execution which was granted to the organisations on February 18, 2014, their appeal against the ministry of Mines, to allow the commencement of large scale mining in the national park would become nugatory (of no value) and rendered academic.

He said that it would be rendered a mere academic exercise because the project entailed large scale mining which might seriously deface or otherwise affect the environment.
Mr Justice Kondolo said there was no need for the organisations to specify or prove exactly how they were affected by the project as was argued by then attorney general Mumba Malila because the consequences of damage could affect anyone.
“I shall not pronounce myself on the rest of the arguments of the parties save to state that a damage to the environment is a matter of public concern and interest which affects all people born and unborn.

For this reason I find that the appellants do not need to specify or prove exactly how they are affected by the subject project” Mr Justice Kondolo said.
Mr Justice Kondolo further said that the stay of execution granted against the minister’s decision would not amount to an injunction against the State because it was not civil proceedings as contemplated by section 16 (2) of the State Proceedings Act.
Mumba Malila, who was the attorney General at this time had in his request to have the stay of execution lifted submitted to the court that the stay was incompetent because it offended section 16 (2) of the State Proceedings Act .

He said none of the six live within the Lower Zambezi National park and did not show to the court how they would be affected or the nature of injury that they would suffer.

Then Judge Kondolo was transferred from Lusaka to some smaller town. This was the time when Wynter Kabimba and Fred M’membe were running a cartel that controlled state house. Judges who showed some resistance were transferred.

With Judge Kondolo out of the way, the Australian relaunched their bid to get court permission to damage the national park. The matter was then handled by late judge Chali who for some reason did not make any judgement.

When judge Chali died, the matter was transferred to this judge Charles Chanda.

So just a day before Zambia’s 55th Independence anniversary, Judge Chanda lifted the injunction which was placed by judge Kondolo in 2014. According to Judge Chanda, he decided to lift the injunction because there was no record of appeal for him to look at.

Below is what KK has said:

STATEMENT ON THE LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK BY DR KENNETH KAUNDA – 30TH OCTOBER 2019
My fellow Zambians,
Friends of the environment all over the world,
The Lower Zambezi is a story of resilience.
I am concerned about the people and their natural resources in and around the Lower Zambezi National Park. This rich ecosystem has supported people for time immemorial. Allow me to highlight some of the important points in the area’s history:
• The Nsenga Luzi people under Chief Mburuma lived in the Lower Zambezi Valley for centuries managing the land and resources well, wildlife thrived.
• When the Portuguese arrived and settled at Feira at the confluence of the Luangwa and Zambezi in 1546, Chief Mburuma’s people guarded the valley jealously and protected the wildlife from their avaricious hunters.

• British hunters arrived in the late 1800’s and hunted thousands of elephant and other large species, the wildlife survived.
• In the early 1920s Nagana arrived and wiped out most of the wildlife and the disease carried by tsetse fly began to infect the people but the wildlife recovered.
• In the mid 1950’s the Colonial Government moved Mburuma’s people out of the Lower Zambezi Valley to Chitope hoping to break the sleeping sickness cycle, the wildlife survived.
• Much of the Liberation war in Zimbabwe took place in the Zambezi Valley but the wildlife survived.
• As soon as the war was over I declared the Lower Zambezi a national Park and the wildlife thrived.
• Slowly tour operators began investing in photographic safaris in the National Park and the wildlife thrived.
Today Lower Zambezi is one on Zambia’s most popular destinations for tourists, both local and International, generating more and more income for government and livelihoods for the people of Zambia. The Lower Zambezi valley also provides a critical biodiversity link between the animals in Luangwa valley and the Kafue basin. It was recently discovered that male lions move through this protected area from Luangwa to Kafue thus maintaining the diversity they require.
The proposed mining operation in the middle of the National park poses the biggest threat in history to the wildlife and pristine wilderness that has survived so many centuries of challenges and supported generations of Zambians.
I am happy and relieved that the Minister of Tourism, Honourable Ronald Chitotela has seen the opportunities for the people living around the Park to build viable natural resource-based economies that can sustain them and their descendants well into the future and I urge him and the Cabinet to consider this as a more holistically sound alternative to the proposed mine.
Our people have a deep history and knowledge of managing their natural resources sustainably, perhaps better than anywhere else in the world. My government recognised this strength in 1984 with the introduction of decentralised wildlife management under the LIRDP pilot in the Luangwa and later Admade and I’m pleased that this policy has been mainstreamed and extended to forestry and fisheries through Acts of parliament.
Much more needs to be done to re-build robust community-based resource management structures that involve and benefit every man, woman and child and contribute to building viable sustainable economies in each catchment across Zambia.
Let us imagine what the kind of life every Zambian wants, be clear about how the environment must look like to produce such lives and plan our management towards that context so that no more time is wasted chasing false promises from the extraction industry.
In line with Honourable Chitotela’s vision, we all need to mobilise efforts to help the people of Luangwa, Rufunsa, Chiawa and Chongwe districts to regenerate their natural resources and build a truly sustainable economy that can serve as an example to the rest of the country.
Thank you and God bless us all.

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