Mufulira’s Patriotic Front (PF) Kantanshi Member of Parliament Dr. Anthony Mumba has warned that the New Dawn Government risk losing people’s support on the Copperbelt if it doe not quickly address challenges facing the mining sector.
Copperbelt Province-based mining giants Mopani Copper Mines and Konkola Copper Mines, currently owned by the Government, are financially struggling due to lack of capital investment in the operations.
Uncertainty surrounding the controversial ownership of Mopani and KCM by the government has not helped the prospect of capital injection in the mining firms that have operations in Kitwe, Mufulira, Chingola and Chililabombwe.
The two firms have been struggling to pay suppliers and contractors who are equally failing to pay their respective workers.
After holding a meeting with selected miners, who work for various contractors under Mopani Copper Mines in Mufulira, Dr. Mumba said several miners have not received their salaries for the last three to six months from their firms.
He also revealed that recently 400 miners have had their contracts terminated by firms dealing with Mopani in Mufulira and Kitwe.
Dr. Mumba vowed to continue speaking for the miners and expressed confidence that the mining sector will be revived soon.
“I had an opportunity to address the miners who work for various contractors under Mopani Copper Mine. The contractors include Reliant as well as AAC mining among other firms. During this meeting I came to learn of the poor conditions of service as well as the sad fact that close to 400 miners have had their contracts terminated. This is in addition to the fact they have not received their salaries for the last 3- 6 months. I am urging the UPND Government to quickly come to the rescue of our dear colleagues or else the government will slowly start to lose their social and political capital they enjoyed prior to the 2021 General Elections. My dear colleagues, I will continue to push for you and speak for you and am optimistic doors will soon open for you,” Dr. Mumba said.
Meanwhile, a concerned miner has lamented the current situation prevailing at Mopani in Kitwe and Mufulira.
“A situation at Mopani Copper Mines is worsening in Mufulira and Kitwe Sites.Only Mopani direct and permanent employees are getting paid. Workers for contractors like;Reliant Zambia,Timaja Drilling,Opermin Zambia Limited,Tauro Mining have not gotten paid their monthly salaries for over 6 months.The contractors used to pay the workers using their pocket monies for a few months but can no longer manage and as we speak,normal operations have been halted.Workers are being told to go home and that they be called back when things normalises.What are they going to be eating?Other contractors (smaller ones) at Mindola Mine in Kitwe alone like JM&J, Seven Two Two Investments, Shamuchisha, Chimwenda Investments, Molencia Investments and Rechi Investments have not gotten paid their salaries for about three months now,” said the miner who calls himself voice of the voiceless.
“The money they paid their workers in the first month was just borrowed and now debtors can no longer give debts to contractors from Mopani Copper Mines saying it currently have a blurred future. Yes, the UPND government is said to be working but when you come to the mines, the mines minister Hon. Paul Kabuswe seems not to be representing the miners the way we hoped. If you can talk about those who played a very big role from the Copperbelt then 3/4 of those are miners plus their families because we had faith in the promises that President HH gave the us when he was in the opposition.We have hope that things will get better but for how long shall we wait? We are losing our jobs as we speak from the mines. If our able government looked into the issue of unemployed teachers and health workers then it is high time you also looked into the issues of Mopani which is dying drastically,” he said.
“Lastly, Sanitech (contractor company) is currently removing mobile toilets from underground because they are not receiving their wages. If not careful, a negative health crisis is about to break out soon because workers will be easing themselves in the drainage running water in that the same workers use that water for body temperature cooling.For today, I will end here hoping to get positive results going forward.This is the situation miners from Nkana and Mufulira are facing,” the miner concluded.
Meanwhile, the government is aware of the challenges Mopani and KCM are facing.
Last week, President Hakainde Hichilema pleaded with Copperbelt residents to be patient as the government addresses challenges affecting the mining sector.
President Hichilema said the Government will soon announce new developments regarding the way forward on Mopani Copper Mines that need capital investment.
The Head of State said the Government is restoring sanity in the mining sector which was left in shambles by the previous Patriotic Front regime.
Mr. Hichilema said the PF regime made a big mistake by liquidating Konkola Copper Mines and when buying Mopani Copper Mines from Swiss firm Glencore.
“We are working rapidly to unlock the Glencoe problem. You know there is a Glencoe problem in Mopani there? Where 1.5 million dollars by our friends in PF. I don’t know..Kushipula ndelanda uku, how the transaction was done I don’t understand but it’s our duty to unlock it now. We have brought in everybody on the table and very rapidly ndelomba abena Kopala, we have demonstrated to you that we can unblock things. Let us continue working together in that direction. Let us not be despondent. Let us not go and do wrong things. We are on the right path to unlock KCM and Mopani and everybody will benefit from that. What benefit will it be to say now tatulefwaya ukubomba, no we down tools when the solution is coming,” he said.
Some miners working for contracting firms under Mopani Copper Mines recently down tools over salary arrears.
On 31 March 2021, ZCCM-IH acquired 90% of the shares in Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) from Carlisa Investment Corporation, owned by Glencore and First Quantum Minerals, following approval by ZCCM-IH shareholders at an Extraordinary General Meeting.
The amount negotiated was $1.5 billion to be repaid annually over a period of 10 to 17 years.
[ Source : Zambianobserver.com]