Monday, December 30, 2013

TEO questions role of mines PS on FQMO board
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe and Stuart Lisulo in Lusaka
Fri 08 Nov. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE Earth Organisation says it is a scandal for the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines to sit on the boards of mining companies as a director.

In an interview yesterday, TEO executive director Lovemore Muma said the organisation would demand an explanation from the government and interested groups on why and how the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines was one of the directors at First Quantum Mineral Operations.

But mines permanent secretary Dr Victor Mutambo said only the Minister of Finance could explain his participation on the boards of mining companies as he was the one that appointed him to represent the government.

He is the one who appoints the government director to sit on these mining companies' boards, said Dr Mutambo, adding that the mines permanent secretary also sits on boards of other mining companies as a government representative.

However, Muma said other individuals and mining technocrats within the government through the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) could be appointed to serve as board members to protect the stakes of government in some mining giants, rather than the permanent secretary who is on the other hand the regulator of the mines and also has powers to issue operating licences.

He said TEO had no doubt that it was because of such irregularities that strange decisions that were not in the best interest of Zambians were being made on the mines in the recent past and "only the investor and few individuals have benefited, leaving people destitute in their own land".

"In a case where mines contravene the law like we have seen lately in North Western and other mines on the Copperbelt, how do you expect such a senior government official to protect the people? He cannot and it becomes difficult for the permanent secretary to exercise partiality because he sits on the board and he is a beneficiary from some mines and personal gains are attached.

The PS in this case has both his legs in government and in the mine so he cannot act in the interest of the nation. We want to see urgent remedial measures taken to address this serious scandal," said Muma.

Muma said such an irregularity was pure corruption and his organisation would want President Michael Sata to take serious action to correct the situation.TEO questions role of mines PS on FQMO board

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