ROGERS KALERO writes@sunzambianMORE than 500 peasant farmers from Wusakile constituency in Kitwe are up in arms against Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) over its decision to evict them from the land behind the South Orebody where they have been doing farming for more many years.Wusakile Member of Parliament (MP) Pavyuma Kalobo has since urged the farmers […]
ROGERS KALERO writes@sunzambianMORE than 500 peasant farmers from Wusakile constituency in Kitwe are up in arms against Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) over its decision to evict them from the land behind the South Orebody where they have been doing farming for more many years.Wusakile Member of Parliament (MP) Pavyuma Kalobo has since urged the farmers to ignore the decision by MCM and continue cultivating their fields because that was their source of livelihood.But MCM Public Relations Manager, Nerbert Mulenga, said the more than 500 farmers had trespassed on the mine land which was a caving area and could collapse anytime.Mr Kalobo on the other hand warned that he was ready to draw battle lines with the mining company because farmers had turned to farming after they were retrenched by the same mining company.In an interview yesterday, Mr Kalobo said he would fight tooth and nail to stop investors from exploiting poor residents in Wusakile constituency.“People have been farming in that area from as far as 1952 during the ZCCM era, but no one evicted them. What has MCM brought to start evicting people in their farming area? This Mopani has been more of a thorn in a fresh than an investor.“Most of the people who are farming in that area were retrenched from Mopani and the same Mopani is now following them in their fields to chase them. Those people will not leave that area. If it means drawing battle lines, we are ready,” Mr Kalobo saidMr Kalobo said Zambia has sufficient laws and procedures to follow when re-settling people which Mopani must follow.“This country has sufficient laws to follow hence if MCM wants to resettle those people, it must engage the people, government and other relevant authorities instead of treating people like toys. No“So if MCM does not engage the people in a better way, then there will be serious problems. If they want to harass those farmers and do all sorts of things, there will be serious troubles. This I promise,” he saidAnd speaking separately during the meeting, the farmers said they had risen against Mopani because its decision was aimed at throwing them in se-rious hunger.One of the farmers, Deuce Songa, said instead of supporting farmers with agricultural inputs as Corporate Social Responsibility, the giant mining had been squeezing them to the last drop“When I say squeezing us to the last drop, I mean it is the same MCM which retrenched most of us here and after we turned to farming, the same MCM comes to chase us from this piece of land“People have been doing farming in this area from the time of ZCCM, but why should MCM evict us? No, this will not happen. This battle has just began. If it means dying, we will die here,” Mr Songa saidBut the Public Relations Manager at the mine said more than 500 farmers had trespassed on MCM which was also a caving area and could collapse anytimeMr Mulenga said the mining company was engaging the office of the area MP to find a lasting solution to the problem“These 500 farmers have trespassed on MCM area which is illegal. Secondly, this is a caving area meaning that we have done all the mining activities underneath and what is remaining is the surface and can collapse anytime,” Mr Mulenga explained.