LABOUR Minister Fackson Shamenda has been accused of interfering with the operations of Dangote Industries Zambia (DIZ) Limited apart from dictating that the Nigerian cement company employs workers of his choice, it has been revealed.
And Mr Shamenda has admitted causing the nullification of the interviews Dangote had conducted to recruit new employees because the cement company did not comply with his directive to involve the labour office.
Mr Shamenda said as far as he was concerned, the Dangote fiasco was closed because he had reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission who, he said, had commenced investigations.
But according to a senior government source, Mr Shamenda, who has accused Dangote of attempting to bribe him, attended a meeting at which he declared the recruitment exercise for the cement company null and void even after the interviews had been conducted and completed.
Mr Shamenda, in one of the meetings with Dangote management, threatened to stop the $24 billion investment if most of his directives were not implemented.
According to the source that attended the meeting, Mr Shamenda is alleged to have ordered Dangote to re-advertise the positions and that the recruitment exercise would have to be conducted in consultation with the labour office.
Mr Shamenda is also alleged to have directed Dangote management to promote a Ms Jennifer to a more senior position in the human resources and directed that she be allowed to attend a seminar on human resource department that was at the time being conducted in Livingstone to upgrade her knowledge.
The Daily Nation has learnt that after it had become evident that Mr Shamenda was harassing Dangote, management decided to write to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry complaining that the Labour minister was directly interfering with the operations of the cement company.
“The minister also asked to check all expatriates’ salaries and qualifications as well as salaries for Zambians. A passing remark was made to the effect that he was sure expatriates salaries were deliberately made small because the bulk of the salaries were probably paid outside Zambia and therefore cheating the country,” a government source revealed.
The Dangote letter, addressed to the permanent secretary reveals that Mr Shamenda had paid a surprise visit to the Ndola plant and due to the fact that there was no notice of his visit, there was no management staff to receive the minister. Dangote complained that some of the directives Mr Shamenda was making in fact bordered on operational issues and the cement company found such orders disturbing, hence the decision to seek advice from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The cement company has maintained that it had complied with all the necessary labour laws and regulations in Zambia and was transparently dealing with its activities to leave no room for breaching labour and investment laws.
The government source said Dangote in its correspondence to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry asked for a tripartite meeting between the Ministry of Labour, Dangote and the Ministry of Commerce so that the misunderstanding could be resolved.
The source said during the meeting, Mr Shamenda enquired why Bala Zango was at the plant site and what visa he was on.
“Mr Bala was on short assignment from Lagos to assist the Ndola office to set up organizational structures and look for experienced human resource managers. The minister remarked that the organizational set-up could also be achieved by appointing a senior Zambian human resource manager and that Mr Bala could act as a consultant for some time,” the source said. But Mr Shamenda said yesterday he had threatened to stop the project because management was not following correct procedure such as adhering to the country’s labour laws.
Mr Shamenda said he has a strong Christian background and that was why his visits to Dangote and other foreign investments in the country had been transparent.