Analysis: SUNDAY CHANDA
WE JOIN the multitudes of citizens across the country, and the Copperbelt in particular, in rejoicing over President Edgar Lungu’s leadership on KCM.
The Patriotic Front (PF) government is a listening one with the interests of Zambians at heart because after all, the minerals belong to the people.
Moreover, because the mineral resources belong to the people, only the people can dictate when one can stop mining them.
The PF government has created an enabling environment by even providing VAT refunds that were abused by some players in the mining sector.
In February, Zambia recorded a trade surplus. The country exported more than it imported. However, shockingly, Zambians were told that some mines are not producing. Yet the nation is aware of certain people scheming with politicians to paint a picture that the PF government is not reasonable.
Zambians have asked how it is that PF can be said to be unreasonable when all it is asking for from a US$5 billion industry by way of the tax regime is only US$300 million, yet certain insincere elements, especially in the opposition, want to paint a picture that PF and Zambians are not pro-business.
The costs of labour and electricity which are primarily local inputs in the mining sector have significantly reduced because of Kwacha depreciation, but these same people want to lie to Zambians that the cost of production in the mining sector is going up.
PF in government has invested heavily in road infrastructure to ensure that mining companies and other investors easily export goods, especially minerals. We continue to subsidise electricity to the mines, and we support their fuel. However, alas, what does Zambia get in return? Threats of job losses, care and maintenance, among others.
Zambians have been taken for a ride; Zambians are tired of being taken for granted by some of these unscrupulous elements.
There is hope. President Lungu has listened to the cries of the mineworkers and their unions; he has heard the calls of contractors and suppliers; the President has responded to the pain of our mothers. Enough is enough. It’s time for tough decisions. Zambia is ready for worthy and credible investors.
As the PF government fixes the KCM mess, Zambians will never forget how they found ourselves in this mess. Our people carry the painful memory of who caused this mess in the first place; and who created the desperation that caused the current KCM ‘investors’ to come on board in the first place.
Zambians remember that Anglo American Corporation was the previous owner of KCM.
What did Anglo do after United Party National Development (UPND) lost in 2001?
Memories are still fresh regarding how UPND founding president, late Anderson Mazoka worked as chief executive officer for Anglo American in Zambia before he retired and joined active politics to form UPND. It has not been forgotten how Anglo American Corporation was said to support Mazoka and UPND, and how the UPND founder and his promoters were so confident of Mazoka’s victory in the 2001 presidential election.
It is still a fresh and painful memory in many Zambian miners’ minds how, when Mazoka lost to late Levy Mwanawasa in 2001, Anglo American Corporation suddenly pulled out of Zambia without warning, leaving thousands of miners to a life of misery.
Left with the burden of jobless mineworkers and the prospect of ghost towns on the Copperbelt, late President Mwanawasa’s back was against the wall and he was pressured to sell KCM for a paltry US$25 million to its current owners that have made life miserable for the Zambian miners, contractors, suppliers and all our people on the Copperbelt.
Zambians painfully recall a video of Anil Agarwal speaking in March 2014 revealing how he bought KCM for just US$25 million.
Agarwal claimed KCM was giving him US$500 million every year in profit, plus an extra US$1 billion. Meanwhile, Vedanta had continued to claim that they were making a loss or a minimal gain at KCM.
In the same video, Agarwal mocked Mwanawasa for selling KCM to him for a song. The mess has its origins in UPND’s collusion with the previous investor, who abandoned the mineworkers.
I’ll bring back Anglo – Hichilema
Campaigning in Chingola on August 25, 2016, Hakainde Hichilema promised the people of Chingola that he would bring back Anglo American to replace KCM if voted into power in the 2016 general elections.
It is not surprising that more recently, Mazoka’s successor, Hichilema, declared that his UPND government would “handover” some mines to Anglo American Corporation.
Zambians also recall Hichilema boasting that some mining giants cannot wait for him to occupy State House.
The sad history of KCM speaks for itself; it shows Hichilema’s UPND is culpable. It demonstrates Hichilema’s vulnerability when he vows to bring back Anglo. Isn’t this the same ‘HH’ who rejoiced over looming 21,000 mining job losses?
Hichilema’s remarks on the economy confirm his insincerity. Is the economic sabotage triggered by his constant flow of propaganda and false claims circulated by his sleazy online media outfits and his party (which is aimed at hurting the country for Hichilema’s benefit) the work of opposition with Zambia’s interests at heart?
The mess that was initially caused by the greed of UPND is now being fixed by the caring Patriotic Front government of President Lungu.
The people of Zambia, through the majority driven Patriotic Front government, will not succumb to the whims of a rogue investor; nor will we tolerate the malicious manoeuvrings of wayward and selfish politicians who do not have the interests of Zambians at heart.
Yes, there will be aftershocks after this that may sting, but specific measures ought to be taken.
The author is Patriotic Front media director.
Analysis: SUNDAY CHANDA