By SANFROSSA MANYINDA
SMALL-SCALE miners popularly known as “Jerabos” have protested against what they described as lack of empowerment programmes for them from Government.
They complained that it was unfair for Government to roll out empowerment programmes across the country, leaving them out when they were no longer operating from the dumpsite.
Initially, the miners were operating from the slug dump near Wusakile under Chapamo Mineral Processing Company Limited.
At the time, Government had empowered the local community in Kitwe, which included the youths, ex-miners and women, by transferring 10 percent shares through Chapamo, a special purpose vehicle owned by the youth.
The 10 percent has since been exhausted.
But the miners demanded that the government should give them back the dumpsite so that they could continue fending for their families.
The miners said they used to depend on the malachite they dug-out of the dumpsite to sustain their families.
“We were surviving from the dumpsite before we were asked leave and we have now been left to suffer since there are no other jobs to keep us busy and fend for our families like before.
“Our friends in Mufulira, Chambeshi, Luanshya and other towns are still empowered with dumpites but we are wondering why the situation has been different with us in Kitwe,” Mr David Kunda said.
Mr Kunda explained that he and his colleagues were being beaten and treated like outcasts whenever they tried to help themselves from the sites that belonged to those who lived in other towns.
Another miner, Mr Alex Kansakala, complained that such things were happening to them because they lacked representation in the area which is under Nkana constituency.
Mr Kansakala said other miners in other areas were empowered in the area because they had representatives who understood the challenges they were going through, a situation he said the team expected to see from their leaders as well.
He said that some police officers collected a list of their names the time they were asked to leave the site and that they were promised empowerment but to no avail.
Meanwhile, Small-Scale Miners Association, spokesperson Samson Mpembwe said when contacted that there was need for equal opportunities for the small-scale miners.
Mr Mpembwe said it was not fair for the government to roll out youth empowerment programmes across the country while others were left behind.