LUSAKA, Jan 6 - Small-scale miners in Lundazi have vacated the Lukusuzi National Park because of constant harassment by Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) officers, Federation of Small Scale Mining Association of Zambia (FSMAZ) secretary general Kennedy Zama has said.
And Zama has said that the setting up of a gemstone exchange is of vital importance, as it will provide a place where miners can sell their stones.
Speaking at a recent FSMAZ Annual general meeting, Zama said Zawa officers were demanding K5,000 from each individual miner per day.
He said he was concerned about the conflicting interests among government departments, naming some as ZAWA, Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) and the Ministry of Mines.
"The ministry will issue a mining licence in a national park or game management area. ZAWA comes and asks for K5,000 per person per day. If you have 50 workers, they ask for K250,000," he said
"When making this statutory instrument, ZAWA had meant it for tourists who stay five to ten days. Miners were forgotten, hence the need to revisit the law."
Zama said the ECZ would further ask for K7.5 million.
He said that there were currently no tourism activities in the area as it was hilly and that there were few animals because "most of them had migrated to the South Luangwa National Park or have been poached."
He said miners in the area felt that the Lukusuzi National Park should be de-gazetted to game management area to allow mechanised mining.
"The Lukusuzi corridor, if fully mechanised, can produce about US$1 billion every year," Zama said. "Colonialists could have had a motive of making this place a park."
And Zama said the setting up of a gemstone exchange would enable the government to account for production and amounts of stones sold.
He said at the moment, Zambia only accounted for less than 20 per cent of the total produce.
"About 80 per cent of the total produce slips through our borders and airports to markets abroad, unaccounted for," he said.
Zama said miners were calling for the government to loop the road network around the country in order to boost agriculture, tourism, trading and mining in the country.
"Miners want government to loop the roads to create the urban-rural drift," he said.
He said there was need to loop highways between Lundazi-Isoka, Isoka-Kasama, Kasama-Mansa, Mansa-Mufulira, Mumbwa-Kasempa and Solewzi-Chavuma.
Others are Mwinilunga-Kabompo, Zambezi-Mongu and Sesheke-Livingsone.