Monday, December 30, 2013

Govt shouldn't allow KCM to blackmail it - Maimbo
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Mon 04 Nov. 2013, 14:00 CAT

LOCAL mining consultant Chris Maimbo says the PF government should not allow itself to be blackmailed by KCM that has come up with persistent threats of mass layoffs .

On Friday Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) chief executive officer Kishore Kumar announced that 1,529 miners would be retrenched within the next three years as the country's biggest mining operation intends to reach automation and mechanisation of its operations.

Commenting on the issue, Maimbo said it was clear that KCM was not telling the government and the nation the truth as in June this year, the company wanted to retrench over 2,000 miners and gave the nation a set of totally different reasons.

"We are able to see that this company we call Zambia's mining giant is trying to play games because early June this year, KCM said they wanted to retrench 2,000 workers because of the impact on the operations arising from the implementation of Statutory Instrument numbers 32, 33 and 78, the changes implemented under the national budget as regards capital allowances and the increase in mineral royalty tax to six per cent but these are progressive measures that were taken by the government to ensure that the country begins to see benefits from the mines," Maimbo said.

"Today, KCM is telling us about its intentions to reach automation and mechanisation of its operations as reasons to retrench miners within the next three years. Everyone is able to see that management is not being sincere and if they have failed, let them surrender the mine to government."

Maimbo said investors like KCM were making a lot of money from Zambia's rich minerals but the benefits to the people had been very elusive over the years.

He said KCM must put its house in order and deal with the issue of many expatriates working at its mines rather than talking about plans to retrench over 1,500 workers.

And former PF Copperbelt youth secretary Chanda Kabwe said it was unacceptable that KCM viewed mass layoffs as the only tangible solution to its operational challenges.

Kabwe said KCM should respect the Zambian workers who had contributed immensely to the company's growth to where it is today after the harsh privatisation process of the defunct Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM).

"It's time to put KCM management in its rightful position and make it realise that it is working with Zambians that have families. The actions of KCM are contrary to the manifesto of the PF that prioritises job creation. This will not be allowed and we are confident President Michael Sata, as usual, will act decisively to protect the interests of the nation and the miners at KCM," said Kabwe.

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