|By Wallace Mawire
HARARE,ZIMBABWE-Newly elected Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema is being petitioned in an online letter seeking at least 50 000 signatures by concerned stakeholders seeking his intervention to save the Zambezi river basin.
At the time of writing, at least 48 759 signatories had signed the petition.The respondents have also been asked to populate the petition of social media platforms like facebook and twitter to have a wide reach and attain the required number of signatures of 50 000.The petition is being run on the change.org online platform.
According to the concerned petitioners, the Zambezi basin, which is fed by the mighty Zambezi river, is at risk of serious harm.
It is reported that an open cast copper mine, called Kangaluwi owned by Mwembeshi Resources Ltd, has been approved in the Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) which is feared to threaten the livelihoods of many communities as well as the rivers, land and wildlife.
It is added that the national park is a source of pride for the country and is an integral part of the Zambezi Basin, the region’s most significant shared resource that contributes to the economic, environmental and social development of more than 250-million people in southern Africa.
‘Because we believe you care about protecting this resource, as father of the nation we call on you to stop this mine before people suffer from its consequences,’ the petition reads.
It is also added that the Zambian Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) recently approved a highly controversial Environmental Impact Study, opening the way for the mine to go ahead.
It is reported that the mine will not only risk contaminating water for communities in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique but for the whole Zambezi delta, destroying rivers, farming and fishing livelihoods and one of the largest tourism destinations for Zambia and Zimbabwe.
‘River pollution caused by the mine could threaten the Zambezi river’s 2,000-ton subsistence fishery, which provides food and protein security to 20,000 people along the river’s banks,’.
It is added that Eco-tourism in the area depends largely on the renewable wildlife and habitat resources and contributes significantly to the local and national economies around the LZNP.
It is reported that tourism establishments in the park and surrounding areas employ more than 1,000 local people, generating a local wage bill of $4 million annually that indirectly supports thousands more people at a local community level.
The petitioners says that their founding father, the late Dr Kenneth David Kaunda referred to the proposed mining project in lower Zambezi as the biggest threat in history to wildlife and pristine wilderness.
‘If we care about him, we will heed his advice and honour his legacy by protecting the Lower Zambezi National Park. The mining project goes against your own party’s comprehensive plan for tourism development. The time has come for your political intervention to halt this project and protect this important ecosystem for current and future generations,’ the petition reads.
The petitioners add that the Lower Zambezi Park is a story of resilience, the wildlife and pristine wilderness have survived for many centuries of challenges and been supported by generations of Zambians.
Join us and stop the mine,! they lamented.