Threats against investors counterproductive

Political activist Dante Saunders has asked President Sata to employ the art of diplomacy in dealing with sensitive issues such as the risk of citizens losing their jobs.

“President Sata must learn the art of diplomacy in dealing with sensitive issues like the impending job losses at KCM. Threats and intimidation will not help resolve the situation but it will be worsen the situation. Investors would want to invest in countries where political leadership respect private businesses. It is a well known fact that the cost of doing business in Zambia is very high and unless this government reviewed their policies, all sectors will be affected and many more Zambians will lose their jobs,” Saunders said.

Saunders said the PF government should never think of nationalization because Zambia had been on that economic trajectory and had failed under first republican president Kenneth Kaunda.

He said threats and intimidations were not going to resolve the problem of the impending job losses at KCM but that such an un-presidential attitude would only worsen the already volatile situation.

He said it was economically and politically incorrect for President Sata to have threatened KCM with the revocation of their mining licence because the resultant effect of such outburst was that investors would be scared and would easily relocate to countries where political leadership had respect for private business.

Saunders has advised President Sata to recruit for himself personnel with the expertise in the management of national affairs as advisors as those that were surrounding him had failed to do the job.

Zambia’s largest copper mining company Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) which is planning to offload more than 1, 500 employees is reported to be facing serious financial problems.

And Barrick Lumwana mining company has already laid off 73 workers with immediate effect while many more are likely to lose their jobs as the mining company in Solwezi has wound up its exploration.

On Monday, President Michael Sata threatened to revoke the mining licence of KCM should the mining company proceed with its plans to terminate the employment of more than 1,500 miners.

According to letters of termination of employment for the Lumwana Mine employees signed by exploration manager Roger Staley, the company had decided to lay off 73 workers because the company has closed exploration.

Management at Lumwana told the affected workers that their positions in the exploration group in Zambia was no longer required following the company’s decision to close exploration in the country.

“Following the communication session held at Lumwana Exploration, with regards to the future of exploration activities in the Australia Pacific Region, I regretfully inform you that your position with the exploration group in Zambia is no longer required. As a consequence of this decision and unavailability of alternative position within the organisation, your employment at Lumwana Mining Company with cease effective 31st October 2013,” Staley said.

Staley informed the affected miners in a letter dated October 29, 2013, all workers under the Lumwana Exploration ceased to be employees of the company on October 31, 2013.

President Sata has threatened to revoke the mining licence of KCM and has told management to go to hell but it has been learnt that the mining company was almost insolvent as it was surviving on loans which were due for repayment.

Sources have revealed that the indebtedness at KCM was making the company fail to meet statutory obligations to government because they were under serious financial pressures.

The sources have said the decision to lay off more than 1,500 miners had nothing to do with the revocation of the Statutory Instrument number 89 because KCM was going to be the direct beneficiary of the revoked law as they were the only company with a smelter.