OVER 18 CSOs have petitioned government over its decision to allow First Quantum Minerals to continue constructing Chisola dam, which was stopped through an environmental protection order.
The organisations, among them, AcitionAid, Canadian Mining Watch, Centre for Trade Policy and Development, Caritas Zambia and the Southern Africa Resource Watch, indicated that should FQM go for the option of constructing the dam before the Strategic Environmental Assessment, they would seek legal redress to stop the action.
Zambia Environmental Management Agency had established that FQM breached environmental requirements relating to the Chisola dam project in chief Museli's area in Solwezi, prompting the protection order. But in a letter addressed to FQM on July 18, 2013, lands, natural resources and environmental protection minister Wylbur Simuusa gave the mining company three options, among them, to proceed with the project on condition that it will demolish the dam at its cost should the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) find its construction undesirable.
But the 18 organisations through Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) campaign officer for Zambia Edward Lange warned they would seek legal recourse locally and internationally should there be continued double standards by authorities.
"It is unacceptable that the government can act arbitrarily, disregarding a professional institution that is mandated to ensure the protection of our environment and our people. It is an act of betrayal of the interests of citizens of a sovereign nation by those entrusted with responsibility to maintain law and order and ensure fairness and justice," stated Lange.
He stated that the 18 CSOs did not understand why the government was seemingly being held at ransom by mining companies.
Lange stated that it appeared that leaders had not been able to effectively engage and negotiate with the mining companies and were negotiating from a point of weakness, "literally begging the mining companies to ransack the country's resources at the expense of the people, the environment and the country".