SOUTHERN African Resource Watch director Dr Claud Kabemba says the poverty situation in Zambia amid rich mineral resources is a serious contradiction that must be addressed without further hesitation.
Speaking at the launch of the Milyashi Community Resource Watch at the Copperbelt Trade and Development Forum (CTDF) in Mpatamatu Township in Luanshya on Saturday, Dr Kabemba said it was sad that many people in the country lived in abject poverty with very little access to water and energy.
Dr Kabemba said the quality of infrastructure for health, education and others does not correspond to the resources the country was endowed with.
"The paradox of the abundance of the resources you have under your fit and the poverty within which most of us here are living in is a contradiction. People who are standing under such an abundance of resources can live in this kind of poverty! Our hope is that the community of Milyashi comes to understand and mobilising itself and start to follow very closely how copper is being extracted, the impact of extraction on their lives, how government is collecting taxes and royalty and using that money to benefit Zambians," Dr Kabemba said.
He said the hope of SARW was that people would begin to understand the extraction of minerals and begin to follow up with leaders at all levels including the central government on the benefits of their mineral wealth.
Dr Kabemba said the Milyashi community must become pioneers that would go to other areas to organise the other communities to ensure all Zambians understood that they deserved to see benefits from the mines.
"Minerals are finite resources. They are going to finish and before they finish, we must benefit from them. Benefit is not just when mining is being done but after mining. What is it that is going to be left behind to ensure that we continue to leave and prosper? We are going to remain behind you. The commitment we've put in providing finances and building capacity will continue and it will continue if you show us your commitment to this project," Dr Kabemba said.
And Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili said the government was aware of the many developmental challenges and hardships that were being encountered by communities across the country particularly among the youth, women and the unemployed.
In a speech read for him by Luanshya district commissioner Arnold Mbaulu, Kambwili who is also Minister of Sports, said the government was working hard to ensure that the available mineral and other natural resources were managed in a manner that would ensure that maximum benefits were derived.