(By Charles Tembo in Chingola)
HUNDREDS of KCM miners’ wives in Chingola have celebrated the announcement by President Edgar Lungu that government will take over the mining company. But the women advised the government not to “bring the Chinese to take over” the mine.
A few weeks ago, wives to the KCM miners protested half-naked, accusing the mining company of failing the people of Chingola and Chililabombwe. Upon arrival at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport on Friday, President Lungu said KCM was taking Zambians for fools.
“We had a few matters to do at State House in Lusaka and of course, the Vice-President [Inonge Wina] came back last night [Thursday] and I had to go and see her, she is doing very well. But my coming here is for one reason, one reason, the people of the Copperbelt want a divorce between themselves and a copper mine namely KCM and Mopani. I want to hear it from the unions and the reason is simple, people have cried! I saw some women some of them half naked crying that they feel cheated by the mining company KCM, and Mopani to some extreme,” said President Lungu.
“I have come here that if it’s the will of the people to divorce, I will do so. The message being made is clear. I want to consult the chamber of mines. I will be meeting them. The mine workers union and other unions to find out what they think and I also have my position, and my position is that enough is enough. Zambians have been taken for a ride by the mining companies. Why should they tell us they are making losses from the time they came? If they were making losses, they could have gone. They are liars, cheats and take us for fools. I will not allow that. Those that want to work with us will follow our laws. It’s a sovereign state and if we say the way we want to manage our tax regime we decide, we will not be blackmailed by investors. Those that don’t want to stay can go. Sales tax is here to stay, VAT is gone. We decide.”
A check in Chingola found the women preparing for a solidarity march slated for Monday.
“Ala we are happy. This is what we wanted to see from our government. Ba KCM batuchusha pafula (had troubled us enough). This company is not good and they have made our husbands suffer. Some of our friends, their husbands are not working because KCM has not paid the suppliers and contractors,” Martha Mulenga said.
The women cautioned the government against bringing the Chinese to take over.
“Ichibacita ba government chisuma. But not balete ba Chinese, pantu ba Chinese tabalipila bwino (what the government has done is good but they should not bring in the Chinese because they don’t pay well).”