The decision by Konkola Copper Mines to lay off 1,500 workers has understandably incensed many Zambians who view the decision as a betrayal of trust. Instead of creating jobs the Company is shedding jobs and obviously few people will give them the time of day to explain themselves.
But perhaps we should.
The politicians are obviously incensed for political considerations, while KCM is concerned for bottom line reasons. Both sides are correct and like all social science issues the truth or answer lies somewhere between the two positions. It follows therefore that an accurately determination can only be arrived at through study which provides adequate knowledge and information.
The case for jobs is not lost on us. The Government has a duty and responsibility to provide quality jobs to the citizenry considering that there is a growing army of unemployed youths who include university graduates, looking for very hard to come by jobs.
It is disheartening that University graduates are pounding the streets looking for menial jobs because the economy is not large enough to accommodate the new labour market entrants.
The answer to this malaise does not lie in insisting on antiquated production models which do not add to national growth. The answer lies in enhancing productivity to grow the economy and thereby create more opportunities.
If it means downsizing labour then let it be so but with the proviso that those retrenched should be trained for deployment in other areas of the economy.
In making an omelet there is no alternative but to break an egg- destructive as it might appear to be.
The Minister of Finance Mr. Alexander Chikwanda has already alluded to the issue of fraudulent accounting among the mining giants and has gone on to do the most logical thing by constituting a team of experts to “audit” them to ensure that the country obtains its fair share from the resources exported.
This team has done a tremendous amount of work to cover loopholes that allowed the companies to get away with murder. This team has sufficient information, expertise and knowhow to help the country understand the various challenges in order that an informed determination is made.
Vacuous tirades against investors went with authoritarianism symbolized by the socialist era. In this day and age arguments of this nature are subjected to reason and logic.
There is no doubt that KCM, a unit of Vedanta Resources, a worldwide company had done its arithmetic and will be able to justify itself. As a nation we have sufficient technical expertise to mount a technical challenge to justify our position.
KCM has argued that the conventional mining methods presently in use on most of its mines are no longer delivering the expected tonnages and therefore plans to mechanize operations at the Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP) and the Upper Ore Body at Nchanga.
We should fault KCM with our own well thought out arguments, not with emotional outbursts.