I want to urge Government to investigate the manner in which lending institutions on the Copperbelt have been deducting money from retrenched miner’s packages that obtained loans from them during their employment.
It is sad and disturbing that some retrenched miners who borrowed money from the Micro Finance Service providers went home bare handed with blank cheques after lending institutions deducted everything from their retrenchment packages.
Most miners have complained that they feel cheated by lending institution. I therefore instituted my own investigation in the matter and my findings have revealed that over 50 percent of retrenched miners have walked home with literally nothing despite most of them getting as much as over K50, 000 as retrenchment packages from their former employers, a situation which is very unfortunate.
For example, Bayport Financial Services Zambia deducted over K45, 000 one off from a client who obtained a K45, 000 loan and has been paying K2, 279 per month for over 12 months. Basic calculations show that this particular client has paid over half of the principal amount borrowed (K45, 000) and yet Bayport deducted the entire retrenchment package after Income Tax deductions resulting in the client walking away with literally nothing. I spoke with three (3) Bayport employees from both Lusaka head office and Kitwe offices and all of them could not properly explain the rationale behind this particular case.
Looking at the circumstances in which the retrenched miners lost their jobs, and were forced to clear their loans at once, lending institutions should have revised their interest rates downwards especially that the money was paid in a shorter period compared to the agreed time frame.
Considering the commitment shown by government to empower retrenched miners through infrastructure development projects as announced by Republican President Edgar Lungu, it is imperative that government intervenes and investigates whether the deductions are being done in accordance with the laid down laws and that no one is illegally benefiting from the retrenched miners.
As a way of showing care and concern, Government should consider dialoguing with all the lending institutions involved to come up with a loan repayment model that would prevent a situation were retrenched miners walk home with nothing other than a pay slip.
For example, government can negotiate for the retrenched miners for them to be allowed to pay six months upfront as opposed to deducting everything since it has assured the nation that the retrenched miners will be re-employed in the next few months. This will allow miners to have enough money to plan their lives and invest in some businesses that would allow them to continue repaying the loans after the initial six months elapses with or without government providing them employment.
It is sad that retrenched miners will fail to provide basic needs for their families and pay children’s education fees next month despite having received good packages from their former employers.
By David Kapoma