President Edgar Lungu has assured the former workers of Mansa batteries in Mansa district in Luapula province that government will settle all the dues owed to them.
The 174 workers lost their employment after the company was privatized during the 1994 privatization exercise and have since then not being given their terminal benefits.
President Lungu stressed that time has come for the matter to be concluded as it had dragged for a long time thereby causing suffering among the surviving former workers and their families.
He said to this effect he will engage the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General to secure all the required K5 billion and be paid to all the workers.
” I think we need to cut this long story short and close this matter once and for all, so when I go to Lusaka I will engage the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General to find the money and pay all the former workers of the Mansa batteries,” he noted.
The Head of State was speaking in Mansa today, when he met the former Mansa batteries workers at the factory.
President Lungu also directed that the new owners of the structures Astro holdings should their position known with regards to the plans they have for the infrastructure, adding that failure to do government will have no option but to repossess the building and turn it into a viable structures that can benefit the local people.
“The new owners. Astro holdings, need to give a new life to the structures here, which will be good for the well-being of the people around but if they are not going to give us a satisfactory response we will have no option but reposes it,” noted.
President Lungu pointed out that the forefathers had a vision of setting up such kind of investments in almost all parts of the country to improve the welfare of the people adding that this is why government has started resuscitating some of the companies that had gone down.
He cited Kawambwa tea and Munushi bananas in Luapula Province as some of the companies that have been revamped.
“It is a shame that something good that was put by our forefathers had to end like this” he added.
And Luapula Province Minister Nixon Chilangwa said it was his desire to see the issue of former workers at Mansa batteries settled by paying them they money.
Mr.Chilangwa said the issue had dragged for long time, until last year when he advised workers to settle the matter outside the court and a consent judgment was signed.
“This issue had dragged for a long time and we had conflicting details coming through, the former workers were tired hence sought government’s intervention but I advised them that government can’t intervene in matter that was active in the courts of law that is how the case was withdrawn to be settled outside court and consent judgment was signed,” he explained.
Early the representative of the former workers Brighton Musukwa disclosed that out of the 174 former workers, 81 have died most of them because of depression.
Mr.Musukwa noted that the lives of the former workers has for the past 26 years being on a halt as many of them cannot afford to fend for themselves and their families due to economic hardships.
He noted from the time the company was privatized the new owner just bought the assets and didn’t not take any liabilities, adding that since then the company has continued to exchange hands in terms of ownership.
“We were 174 but now we have just remained 93 our colleagues 81 of them have all died and the cause of death is depression, from 1994 we have lived in misery our families are suffering we can’t afford even to take our children to school, life has been unbearable so just want our dear President to help us by giving us our money,” he said.
He also appealed to President Lungu to consider turning the factory in to a village industry that will allow the setting up of small industries.