I wont resign, Black Mountain victims were criminals

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Mines and Mineral Resources Minister Richard Musukwa, has refused to resign in the wake of the Black Mountain disaster that claimed more than 10 lives, saying the fact that criminals or illegal people invaded a mining site is not a good cause for him to resign.

Prior to the collapse of the Black Mountain, widespread concerns about a possible catastrophe where raised due to unsafe mining activities at the copper and cobalt-rich slag dump.

But government through Mines Minister Richard Musukwa rubbished those concerns, claiming that operations at the mining slug dump were safe.

Musukwa told the Zambia Daily Mail in an interview that fears that the Black Mountain was a disaster in waiting were misplaced, adding that mining operations at the site were being supervised by the Mines Safety Department.

In the wake of the horrific accident, there have been sustained calls for Musukwa’s resignation for misleading the country on the safety conditions on the slag dump.

But speaking in Parliament, Thursday, Musukwa refused to take any responsibility for the disaster.

He said people should not blow the Black Mountain accident out of proportion because mine accidents happen all the time.

Responding to a question from Chasefu PF member of parliament Gerald Zimba who wanted to know what criteria was used for people who were mining at the dump site and if government was considering withdrawing the 10 per cent to avoid further tragedies, Mukuswa said those who died in the Black Mountain disaster were scavengers.

“The accident that we are considering, as you know government gave a license to seven companies. The people involved in the accident were scavengers. [They] were people that had entered the mine site illegally,” Musukwa said.

Asked by Mumbwa UPND member of parliament Credo Nanjuwa whether the minister would resign following calls from a cross section of society, Musukwa said he would not resign because criminals invading a mining site was not a good cause for him to resign.

“I want to further state that indeed what happened is unfortunate and it should have not happened. This accident happened as a result of failure of the illegal scavengers at the site to respect the provisions of the law. In short they failed to comply with the process in terms of what was happening at the site. This is what necessitated this accident. I want to further state that in terms of the safety procedures and standards that was put at the site, they were consistent with the standard practice in terms of mining,” he said.

“If criminals or illegal people invade a mine site like they did at the Black mountain, surely that is not a good cause for me to resign. I’m not resigning. I’m going to ensure that this matter, the unfortunate circumstance that has happened is never repeated by ensuring that our people comply with the mines and minerals act.”

And Musukwa said one of the seven companies, Chapamo, had taken up the responsibility of compensating bereaved families because the accident happened within their licensed area.

“Indeed, when an accident of this magnitude happens, small or large, people are expected to be looked after and compensated in a way. What we have done as government is to ensure that we provide relief in terms of how we mourn and bury our people. And I want to also inform this House that Chapamo group of companies has actually taken the responsibility because this accident has happened within their licensed area, under their jurisdiction,” he said responding to a question from Manyinga UPND member of parliament Robert Lihefu.

Meanwhile, Musukwa said people should not blow the Black Mountain accident out of proportion because mine accidents happen all the time.

“What is unfortunate is that we have an accident that has happened and this accident is unfortunate. Mr Speaker, as you are aware government and the ministry would not allow the operation that would result in an accident. As I stand, Mr Speaker, I would like to inform you that all mining operations sit on a platform of fairly stable and safety conditions which they have put in their operations. However, Mr Speaker, only last week I had an accident which was recorded at Konkola Copper Mine. This is a very unfortunate circumstance that happened and that we should not use it to propel different persuasions to the subject matter,” he said responding to a question from Chama South PF member of parliament Davison Mung’andu.

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31