13,000 miners expected to lose jobs due to liquidation of KCM – UPND

Staff Reporter

OPPOSITION United Party for National Development (UPND) says the liquidation of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) amounts to closing down the mine and throwing away 13, 000 miners.

Meanwhile, Action Aid Zambia has lauded the liquidation of KCM but only if it was done in a proper manner that ensures sustainability and respect for human rights.

UPND chairperson for mines, Percy Chanda urged President Lungu to take a leaf from the liquidation of UBZ, Ramcos and Zambia Airways for him to understand the pain that employees, suppliers and contractors were going through.

Chanda said that despite being aware of the negative impact on the former employees of the liquidated companies who had not yet been paid their terminal benefits, President Lungu had chosen to go ahead with impunity to shut down the mines.

He stated that what was of serious concern to the UPND was that mining is the lifeline of the millions of people on the Copperbelt and the liquidation would impact negatively on the well-being of contractors and suppliers to the mines.

“Irrespective of how the PF would wish to deceive Zambians, particularly the people of the Copperbelt that this process is a mere takeover of the mines by another firm, the truth still remains that this process amounts to the liquidation of the mines resulting in loss of jobs,” Chanda said.

He disclosed that the UPND would have preferred to appoint a receiver manager to manage the affairs of KCM in the interim.

Meanhwile, ActionAid country director Nalucha Ziba said over the years, KCM had argued that high operational costs have been limiting its prospects for profitability.
She disclosed that KCM General Manager recently made claims by officially stating that, “the company is yet to receive a positive return on this investment.”

Ziba said this position was contrary to a statement given a couple of years ago by Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal, who owns significant shares in KCM that the company was making US$500 million  profit each year.

“We fail to understand why a company like KCM for many years have always claimed to have operational challenges and threatened to either suspend operations or the workforce whenever new tax laws are introduced. This arm-twisting game is not appropriate in promoting a win – win situation between the country and the investor,” she said.

Ziba stated that it is important that experts from key institutions are engaged in a transparent manner to manage the transition period.

“These experts should not be individuals or proxies to individuals with private interests in KCM. These experts should work independently outside any political influence and within the agreed scope of work by both parties,” she said.

Ziba stated that it was necessary that there is value for money and that the mine is sold at its actual value.

She said that it is imperative that Government follows the due process of the Law in its endeavour to protect the interest of the nation to avoid unnecessary costly international litigations as the case has been in similar circumstances before.
“Local people have been victims of human rights violations as a result of disregard by the mining company to oblige with standards set out in the environmental management act. One of the cases is still in the courts of law and many other complaints are sitting with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency,” she said.

“For instance, Tsopano community in Chingola district has been a victim of violations with nearly 2000 households affected due to blasts that have cracked housing structures; putting lives at risk. Further, the environment has been degraded to an extent where livelihood activities such as agriculture can no longer be supported,”