While I agree that there is room for dialogue between the Patriotic Front (PF) government and the mining industry in Zambia, the farewell message from First Quantum Minerals (FQM) director of operations Matt Pascall published by Lusaka Times on January 2, 2019, is disgraceful.
For a country that has rewarded him with incredible opportunities as a person, his departure should be that of gratitude and grace. There is a time and a place to criticize your host nation. Your farewell message should not be it.
If there was any doubt that some expatriate executives in mining are incompetent, Pascall just erased that doubt. When you are leaving a job opportunity, or a country for that matter, your parting message ought to be positive. That is not the time to settle scores. FQM’s position on the new taxes can be made clear by their media relations. That is Organizational Behavior 101.
Reading his farewell message, Pascall finds it ‘odd’ that the most rewarding part of his experience in Zambia is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aspect of his job. For a leader who has the right set of values, corporate or otherwise, there should not be anything ‘odd’ about finding fulfillment in corporate social responsibilities. As a matter of fact, a true transformational leader finds fulfillment in the impact she or he has on all stakeholders, especially employees and the surrounding community. It is abundantly clear that Pascall is a transactional leader who instinctively cares about the bottom line, trying his hardest to pay lip service to CSR.
The Zambia Government needs to revise employment policies from executives to the frontlines and prioritize Zambian citizens. Zambia can not afford to continue having executives in mining that have no vested interest in the long term sustainability of country.
Those to whom a stint in Zambia is just a ‘chapter’ in their careers can not make decisions that have long term value for the host nation. Surely, Pascall has extensive experience in mining, but he does not have the right set of values for a leader at that level. His situational awareness leaves much to be desired. Zambia needs mining executives that have a deep understanding of the immediate environment they conduct their business in. Those that vested interest in sustainable legacies of the country, while still maintaining a healthy return on investment for shareholder.
Additionally, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) needs to be run like the big business that it needs to be, and not the kantemba (Make shift stall) that it is today, that only pays fake dividends at the expense of real growth. When the Zambian Government and the mining industry reach impasse in negotiations, ZCCM-IH should have liquidity to execute some hostile take overs as a defacto best alternative to a negotiated agreement. ZCCM-IH is audibly silent during the tax dialogue. Most importantly, ZCCM-IH should have a pipeline of up and coming Zambian mining executives ready to take over leadership when entitled and ungrateful expatriates like Pascall decide to leave and pursue ‘the next chapter’. Our people do not have the next country to go to as ‘the next chapter’. We owe it to them to make living in Zambia the best one chapter life she has the potential to offer.
By Patriotic Zambian Miner