The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has commended the government for cancelling the mining licences of the Collum Coal Mines Industries Limited.
Mines Minister Yamfya Mukanga on Wednesday said the mine, which is a hotbed for acrimonious relationships between local labourers and their Chinese masters, would be run by ZCCM Investment Holding in the interim as government seeks an equity partner.
Council of Churches in Zambia secretary general Suzanne Matale in a statement said the government action would be a good lesson to all investors and other employers who take Zambians for granted because of their poverty.
"The horrible stories that emerge time and time again from workers of the so-called investors are always disturbing. The action by the government should be extended to all mines which pollute the air and rivers, those who have no regard for human rights of the people and those who mistreat their workers including paying them slave wages," she stated.
Rev Matale stated that the nation had not forgotten the 2005 Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (BGRIMM) explosion that killed about 50 Zambian workers on the Copperbelt.
"People's well-being should always come first before profits. Investors should check their greed and ensure that Zambians benefit from their mineral wealth while investors make their profits in a dignified way and not have a free ride on backs of poor people who find themselves in the situation of helplessness, hopelessness and poverty," she stated.
"Issuance of mining licences must be further tightened to ensure that only genuine and law abiding investors are considered. Corruption if any, in the issuance of mining licences, should also be checked."
Rev Matate also advised government over the urgency of causing revision of all archaic investment laws, policies and legal frameworks to bring them in line with human rights of the people to protect them from abuse and dangers associated with activities that the Chinese and other investors were involved in. "These laws must also deal with dumping of cheap and low quality goods onto the Zambian market making it difficult for Zambians to compete on the market for their survival. This has been our call for a long time now," she said.