THE veil of secrecy that surrounds the agreement that Government signed with Vedanta Resources Plc is what is causing all the consternation among miners and other key stakeholders.
This is the more reason Government must disclose the details of the agreements as suggested by Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Joseph Chewe.
Miners as well as contractors are uneasy as they have not seen any kind of movement at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
When Government and Vedanta signed the agreements three months ago, there were assurances that the investor would pump in so much in the recapitalisation of the mine.
And even as the miners’ unions and others appreciate that the court process has to be finalised, the signs are that they might get a raw deal in the end.
There are fears that not all contractors will be paid.
The repercussions for this are that the affected contractors will not be able to pay off their workers and the ripple effects that will ultimately affect the economy.
Moreover, Vedanta is said to be demanding among other things that it benefits from the NAPSA waiver as well as tax arrears.
This is money that the country’s treasury will lose, which it cannot afford to.
Whether these are mere speculations or not, the apprehension is justified for the unions, who should be in the know are equally in the dark.
But as Mr Chewe said, the mine workers unions were now demanding that, Government should make public the contents of the agreement it was signing with mining investors because the country has learnt bitter lessons from some mining investors reaping millions from the country’s mineral resources.
If anything, Government should take the unions into confidence and share with them the details of the agreements it is signing with mining investors.
Doing so would make it easy for the miners’ unions to explain to their members the status quo and move in tandem with Government in its dealings with the mining investors.
During their January 2, 2024 a press briefing at Katilungu House in Kitwe, the mine workers’ unions urged Government to reduce on rhetoric and take a practical approach to save the KCM from going on “Care and Maintenance” because the investor, Vedanta Resources Plc had not moved in to recapitalise the mine despite signing an agreement with the government three months ago
The three mine workers’ unions, MUZ, National Union of Miners and Allied Workers and the United Miners Workers Union of Zambia demanded that Government should make public the contents of the agreement it signed with Vedanta Resources Plc and the new investor at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM).
While we appreciate that Government recently invited the miners’ unions to State House, mere assurances are not enough when they are not told the nitt gritty of the agreements.
They find it difficult to assure their members that things will be fine for they must deal with facts – that they do not have.