As MMD youths, we feel the presence of UPND President Hakainde Hichilema’s on the Copperbelt cannot pass without a comment.
Typical of Mr Hichilema, he has found his way to the Copperbelt on a mission to mislead miners in the province that he has the answer to their plight.
What we do not find surprising is that Mr Hichilema always takes advantage of the weak in society.
Throughout his business and political life, Mr Hichilema has always preyed on the weak to his benefit.
He has seen it fit to go and camp on the Copperbelt to peddle half truths because he believes the miners, in their desperation will listen to him.
President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s recent trip to the region was fruitful. We know that the engagement he initiated with the mining executives has started bearing fruit and the stabilisation plan for the mining sector will soon be rolled out.
But as usual, Mr Hichilema is attempting to undo the good works that President Lungu initiated whilst on the Copperbelt by taking a cocktail of lies to struggling miners who are facing a world of uncertainty.
We challenge Mr Hichilema to come out in the open and lay down a blue print for the revival of the mining sector.
As MMD youths, all that we have heard from Mr Hichilema about how he plans to run the mining sector have been contradictory.
On a Monday, he says he will bring back Anglo American, on a Tuesday, he says he will promote local ownership of the mines. On a Wednesday, he says his Government will increase its stake in the mines.
On a Thursday, he says he will go for optimal taxation of the mines and on a Friday, he says his mining policy will be dictated by the prevailing conditions at the time.
All followers of Mr Hichilema’s public statements will attest to the fact that he has been flip-flopping on the issue of the mines.
When Zambia debated the issue of the mineral royalty tax, Mr Hichilema has usual offered somersaulting answers each time he was asked about his taxation policy for the mines.
Up to now, Mr Hichilema’s definite position on the mining sector is unknown.
If he has any, we challenge him to lay it out for national debate because we know that whatever it would be, it will be found wanting.
We do not believe that Mr Hichilema’s holds the magic bullet to resolving the challenges facing the mining sector.
The key problems facing the mining sector are global in nature.
The slump in metal prices is beyond Zambia. We know that key commodity exporters including Botswana (Gold), DRC (Copper & Cobalt), Chile (Copper & Gold) Australia (Copper, Iron, Zinc) including India (Zinc, Iron and Copper) and China (Copper) have all been hard hit by the fall in metal prices.
The decision by mining companies to place certain operations on care and maintenance is part of a global business response. Most of those decisions have little to do with the Government in power.
As MMD youths, we wish to applaud the efforts by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to ensure business continuity and protect employee welfare even in this challenge economic environment.
The route that President Lungu has taken which promotes dialogue between Government, the unions and the mining investors is timely and commendable as it is the surest way of sustaining the mining sector.
We know that Mr Hichilema deep down his heart wishes that all the mines could close so that he could score some cheap political scores in the hope that he could win the next elections and then sell the mines on a cheap to his Anglo American friends.
We wish to tell Mr Hichilema that his evil intentions will not come to pass. Zambians now know him very well for a cheap politician he is. The mining companies have all reaffirmed that they will not abandon Zambia because they are confident that the country presents the best investment climate possible.
Just on Monday, Konkola Copper Mines CEO Steven Din reaffirmed that Vedanta Resources Plc is in Zambia for the long haul.
Last month, Glencore A.G CEO Ivan Glansenberg told investors that Zambia is the place to go for long term investors and that his plans for Mopani are well in place.
Our appeal is to all mining players including the mine unions not to be gullible and pay audience to Mr Hichilema.
Recent history shows that he personally plundered the resources of this country by agreeing to be part and part of a flawed privatisation process which even the IMF and the World Bank have agreed was badly implemented.
So where then does Mr Hichilema get the moral authority to go and deceive the miners? Until he truthfully answers questions about how he personally benefited from the cheap sale of ZCCM assets to his friends for a song, he does not have the right to address our miners in the manner he seeks to do.
To the residents of the Copperbelt, our advice is that they should dismiss Mr Hichilema’s machinations with the contempt they deserve.
He does not deserve to even an audience with the people of the region because he is the one responsible for their misery.
Our humble advice to Mr Hichilema is that let him return to Southern Province and take care of his ranches than making a mockery of a precarious situation on the Copperbelt which President Lungu is delicately handling.
Issued by: Mr Bowman C. Lusambo
MMD Vice Presidential Aspirant & Kabushi Aspiring Candidate 2016