I hope this letter finds you in perfect health and peace.
Am a Zambian born and bred in the small but significant town of Mufulira. I was privileged to be born at a time the mines were owned by the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). And I saw how our small town, together with the rest of the Copperbelt Province enjoyed the fruit of its God given mineral resources. I saw how our socio-economic outlook was the envy of the rest of Zambia. Even the education and sports systems and facilities thrived in Zambia because of ZCCM. Service provision was top-notch because the mines ran the hospitals, built roads, street lighting, housing infrastructure, water and sewerage, garbage collection, etc. God knows how those years were harshly swept under the carpet by the evils of a hastily done privatisation.
Most investors in Zambia are not conducting themselves properly because we have permitted them to do so. We have engaged them by begging as though they were doing us a favour to manage our resources forgetting that they are reaping huge profits. We have approached them as junior partners with nothing to offer.
I very well know that ubulimi bwa kale, tabutalalika means. And am alive to the fact that those days are long gone. But we still have the chance to take remedial steps. Steps that can improve our current scenario. Steps that can even make Zambia a gem. What am I driving at?
Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM) is here before us. Hon. Richard Musukwa, Minister of Mines and Member of Parliament for Chililabombwe. Your entire constituency is highly affected by the happenings at KCM. This is an opportunity for you to help the people that put you in that comfortable office by doing the right thing. And Zambia in general will benefit. How you engage the prospective new mine owners at KCM is vital going forward.
I personally do not care whether it’s the Chinese, the Australians, the Canadians or even the Peruvians. All I care about is that this process is done diligently, to benefit Zambia as a whole. I know there has already been talk of the Chinese being favoured to take over. They have the money, we have the commodity. Is anything wrong if the Chinese took over? Certainly NO if your office Honourable Minister will take a few things into consideration.
The two things to consider are:
1. Zambia must ultimately benefit from its God given natural resources. Our youths must either be directly employed or be given contracts to supply goods and services to these mines. And the treasury must not be duped into giving the useless tax holidays like in times past.
2. Our leaders, especially those tasked to get new owners, must exhibit a high standard of moral and ethical conduct to get the best investor.
The issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) must be outlined clearly. They (investors) must agree to provide good medical and education facilities to their employees and families and even sponsor proper sports clubs and activities.
The discharge of toxic substances into the environment should be guarded against. Our people must never drink polluted water at the expense of an investor who will be long gone when we will be left with empty open pits and undergrounds to deal with.
These investors must be made to employ any qualified Zambian and pay them appropriately. Expatriates should come to Zambia not because of their skin colour but their skills set.
Hon. Musukwa, you worked in the mines and I know you understand the expectations that Chingola-Chililabombwe people have. And I believe you have the desire, ambition and drive to do the right thing and leave a lasting legacy. Doesn’t it pain you that your people still affectionately talk about Mr. Edward Shamutete long after he left?
By the way, am a registered voter in your constituency under Kafue Ward. See you in 2021!
By Percy Mwale