THE Patriots for Economic Progress has noted with regret the current impasse between government and Mopani Copper Mines whereby the former has objected to the proposal by the mining company to suspend mining operations and place their Kitwe and Mufulira mines on care and maintenance.
Pep leader Sean Tembo noted that Mopani on its part had decided to proceed to place their Kitwe and Mufulira mines on care and maintenance effective Wednesday despite government’s objections.
Tembo said the global COVID-19 pandemic had undoubtedly disrupted the wheels of commerce and trade worldwide and Mopani’s submission to suspend mining operations until the global supply chain systems are restored is well founded and necessary to preserve and protect the value of the company.
Additionally, Tembo said the gesture by Mopani to consult government before effecting its plans, as well as to ensure that all employees were paid a full salary during the period of suspended mining activities, was a very welcome gesture and shows good corporate citizenry on the part of Mopani, under trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is worth noting that very few companies that have shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Zambia are actually paying full salaries to their employees during the period of the shutdown, which makes Mopani a good exception,” Tembo said.
And on the other hand, Tembo condemned the possible arm-twisting tendencies of government, without any valid reasons, to object to Mopani’s decision to place its Kitwe and Mufulira mines on care and maintenance.
He stated that instead of specifying the exact details of the Mopani plan, which the Minister of Mines was unhappy with, he instead went on a rant about how multinational companies always try to arm-twist government without providing any details.
Tembo added that from his standpoint, if any party was arm-twisting the other, in this matter, “it is the government arm-twisting Mopani and not the other way round”.
“It must be noted that by Mopani committing to pay the full salaries of its employees during the period of the shutdown, it has fully complied with all the provisions of the Employment Act, No. 3 of 2017 and must be applauded for doing so in these trying times,” Tembo said.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to take this opportunity to advise the PF and its government to always try their level best to maintain good relations with the corporate world in Zambia. The relationship between government and the corporate world in Zambia must be that of two partners working together to grow the economy and improve and protect the welfare of employees. However, it is regrettable that the government and its agencies see themselves as policemen and view corporate entities as suspects. This has created a very antagonistic atmosphere in the corporate sector in Zambia and has the potential to frighten investment, both domestic and foreign.”
Further, Tembo wonder where the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry was and why he was mute and unable to intervene when the Minister of Mines was harassing Mopani.
“The government of Zambia must be made aware that not all issues can be resolved by flexing muscles and speaking with the tone of a drill sergeant. Some issues, such as the Mopani issue, require the systematic application of intellect; an attribute that appears to be missing in our mines minister,” said Tembo.