environment vs economy

Zambia: Hichilema backs open pit mine in national park, in test of reform promises

By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe

Premium badge Reserved for subscribers

Posted on February 22, 2022 10:00

Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park (twitter @VictorKanyense)

Zambia’s ruling party United Party for National Development (UPND) has given the green light for large-scale open-pit mining in Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) following a court order. The move has sparked outrage and put President Hakainde Hichilema on a collision course with environmentalists, the middle class and some Western organisations who touted him as a reformist.

On 31 January, the green economy and environment minister, Collins Nzovu, told journalists that the open-pit mining project in LZNP would go ahead under strict adherence to measures set by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to approve its plans to commence large-scale mining.

Nzovu said the government’s “hands were tied” because “….Mwembeshi Resource has been allowed to go ahead with mining by the Court of Appeal. As the New Dawn, do we agree? No we don’t, we want to ensure that there is environmental sustainability, all our promises, we want to keep them but remember we are also a government of laws”.

Hichilema, who does not shy away from public debate, has not directly commented on the matter that threatens to divide interest groups in Zambia and beyond.

Civil society organisations, traditional leaders, artistes and safari operators – led by the World Wildlife Fund

There's more to this story

Get unlimited access to our exclusive journalism and features today. Our award-winning team of correspondents and editors report from over 54 African countries, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Abidjan to Abuja to Addis Ababa. Africa. Unlocked.

Subscribe Now

cancel anytime