A January 2022 report by MakanDay revealed a strange disease is threatening the lives of manganese miners in Mkushi and Serenje districts, where the mineral isa major source of income. The Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) now wants government to act and save the lives of workers at Southern Africa Ferro Alloys Limited (SAFAL), who are plagued by a strange disease that has left some of them unable to speak.

Executive Director Maggie Mwape, who visited the workers in Serenje after the MakanDay revelation said the health condition is suspected to have come from constant exposure to a toxic chemical used to enhance the value of manganese. 

“As CEJ we demand (for) improved health and safety in processing plants in Serenje district to save lives as workers are not receiving milk, personal protective equipment and do not get paid a full salary while nursing a wound when injured at work,” she said in a statement.

“We demand that the Ministry of Health conducts urgent official tests on the victims and provide them with full detailed medical report on the condition,” she added.

She also urged the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to be proactive and conduct periodic reviews to detect companies that violate environmental laws.

Chief government spokesperson and Minister of Information and Media Chushi Kasanda, when asked for comment referred all queries to the Ministry of Health. But both Ministries of Health and Labour have not yet responded to MakanDay’s requests for comment.

Main photo: A worker displaying some of the protective wear used at the mine