Thursday, March 20, 2014

KCM should not be treated like a small god - Sichula
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe in Chingola
Tue 03 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

CHINGOLA residents should start preparing for reality that one day, they will have to survive without mining, says district commissioner George Sichula.

And Sichula says Konkola Copper Mines should not be treated as a small god and be allowed to arm-twist the government into submitting to its demands and extra incentives.

Sichula said, recent economic resurgence in the former cleanest town in Zambia was due to economic refocusing and diversification from mining as some economic activities sprung up in different parts of the town.

"We have a big and ready market in the Democratic Republic of Congo for maize, crops and all sorts of agriculture products," Sichula said in interview.

"As a district, we are looking at investments in agriculture, fish farming and just other investors who are coming to invest away from mining. And these investments have been increasing since the PF came into power."

Sichula said the recent economic resurgence in Chingola, coupled with increased infrastructure development had seen some natives who abandoned Chingola returning and investing in the town.

"We need to accept that someday in future, copper, being a wasting asset, will finish," he said. "It is not going to be there forever and people must begin to think of something away from mining and diversify into agriculture. There are areas that have no minerals and are doing better than us. We also need Manda Hill and Arcades Shopping Malls and those will begin to employ people and make money. Mining is not everything and we shouldn't treat KCM like a small god in Chingola."

And Sichula said, Vedanta Resources had not shown commitment to running KCM in a manner that adds value to Chingola.

"KCM has not been sincere in the way they conduct their business," he said. "The way they have been planning to lay-off massive numbers of workers without consulting government shows that KCM has an element of pride and they think they are government on their own. But one thing they are forgetting is that issues of jobs are very sensitive and should be handled as such."

Sichula advised KCM to stop offending government.

He was optimistic that the technical committee on mining headed by Tranta Mining chief executive officer, Dr Sixtus Mulenga, would deliver a report that will guide government in dealing with KCM.

"I don't know how they were dealing with the previous government but as for this Patriotic Front, it's the government that can't be compromised and we are not in government to deal in barter system," said Sichula.
"We know with these decisions on jobs, KCM was trying to blackmail government and sit down and negotiate…but they can't blackmail us and we are now just waiting for the report from the technical committee."

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