By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
There have been calls from certain sectors of society for government to consider taking over the mines. “With the current favourable Copper prices, we wouldn’t even be going to plead for bail-out packages from the imperialists,” you would hear them say.
Do you honestly think the government should entangle itself in the business of running the mines? I would be shocked if such sentiments would be coming from senior PF party officials such as Chishimba Kambwili, Wilbur Simuusa or Davis Mwila as I expect the trio to easily understand how our own citizens ran down the mines during the ZCCM days as we were once queuing up for kampompo at the Nchanga Open pit Mine!
A plethora of reasons contributed to the eventual collapse of the mines – ill qualification, supplying air, indiscipline, dishonesty and the lack of dedication, among others.
One day, a mobile crane which was vital in the operations of mining activities at the Open pit broke down. The outriggers, and components where the crane stood as it hoisted things couldn’t eject. The diesel mechanics were the first ones on site – they touched everywhere they could but the machine still remained malfunctioning. “This is an electrical problem, electricians must come in,” they insisted.
A colleague and I didn’t waste time jumping onto the machine. We diagnosed the circuits from the source (battery) to the solenoids that activated the outriggers. We couldn’t detect any fault.
In the meantime, production was being delayed. Rado messages soon started flooding from the highest echelons of power in the mining establishment. “How come ore isn’t moving?” “There’s a machine blocking the way!” “Where are the mechanics?”
Seeing that we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, we roped in the so-called experts from both sides of the aisle – mechanical and electrical engineers. They just stood there like idiots…..big eyes on their faces. And these were individuals trained by the state at either UNZA or foreign universities at great expense to the nation!
“Well…..bring in the manufacturers if you can’t fix the equipment!” an irritated voice cracked in the radio. It was that of the Open pit manager.
Later in the day, a boisterous, tall and slender individual pitched up! He smoked one cigarette after another.
After briefly interrogating us, he briskly jumped onto the machine. In no time, the machine came to life and was soon standing on the outriggers. Do you know ukupomboloka ngensoka? Well, that’s what the engineers did! They totally had no clue about the fault on the equipment.
Apart from this, we had artisans who would be dispatched into the pit to attend to broken down machinery. Instead of getting down to work immediately, they’d doze off inside the shovels (not the shovels you use kumanda, but those monstrous machineries they use in the Open pit mines to extract ore from the ground, and load it onto the equally gigantic dump trucks) only to come alive a few minutes before their shift ended. They simply did so to drag the work into the next shift so that they could be paid overtime!
Kambwili worked at Nchanga as a “changa changa” – personnel officer. He would be in a better position to tell the nation how ba shimaini absconded from work after getting paid, how many times they feigned illness after a heavy drink up or pretended to have lost a relative in the village so they could stay away from work. All this was happening was happening as nobody seemed to care! “Chabuteko ichi, so what if I don’t report for work!” most of the miners would retort.
And yet you want government to step back into the mining business…..to finish off the mines, not so?
If we’re insisting on citizens running the mines, this mustn’t be conducted under the framework of the government but rather private citizens teaming up and bidding for these mines. Government must limit itself to the role of providing affordable loans under the auspices of CEEC, NATSAVE, DBZ etc. Even part of CDF can be channeled to such activities as it is likely to creat employment for our youth instead of bogus projects where some unscrupulous individuals are scheming to defraud the state through overpricing.
I rest my case…..