Kitwe’s Independent Nkana Member of Parliament Binwell Chansa Mpundu has challenged the Government to provide a clear road map and time frame in which it will resolve issues surrounding the revival of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Mopani Copper Mines (MCM).
Mr. Mpundu said he expected the Government to give hope to the people of the Copperbelt Province regarding the pending unlocking of KCM and Mopani.
He said the economy of the Copperbelt is on its knees owing to sluggish operations of Mopani and KCM.
Featuring on a Radio Icengelo Programme in Kitwe, Mr. Mpundu said the government needs to revive the private sector in order to facilitate the meeting of the bloated public sector wage bill after employing more civil servants recently.
“My appeal to the government is that for us to sustain the continued employment of civil servants, we must promote the private sector because the taxes we are going to raise from the public sector are going to help us sustain the bloated wage bill. I want to put it on record, the current wage bill even before the recent employment of more civil servants; the public sector wage bill is way beyond normal. If you look at our national budget, over 50 percent goes toward the public sector wage bill. So you can imagine the strain we are putting on the government if we continue to employ more civil servants and we neglect to promote the private sector. So, whilst we commend the government for employing more civil servants, our appeal to the government is that let us go out and promote the private sector,” Mr. Mpundu said.
The Nkana lawmaker criticized Minister of Mines Paul Kabuswe for admitting that the Government thought resolving the KCM issue would be easy.
Mr Kabuswe last week told journalists that it’s taking a bit of time to resolve issues surrounding KCM and Mopani Copper Mines because they are more complicated than they appear.
“When we talk about the private sector that is why you hear us, almost sounding like a broken record when we are in parliament to call for the government to speedily address the issue of Konkola Copper Mines and Mopani Copper Mines. You know ba Mbewe (presenter Kennedy Mbewe) you have lived on the Copperbelt for a long time, that there is no Copperbelt without KCM and Mopani. We know at some point because copper is a diminishing resource, at some point these are going to give us some problems but not now. I am very heart-broken to hear the Minister of Mines (Paul Kabuswe), who should have been giving hope to the people on the Copperbelt, make a statement that we thought it was easy but it is complicated to address the issue of Mopani and KCM. That statement shouldn’t have been made by the Minister of Mines. The people of the Copperbelt are looking for hope from the government,” Mr. Mpundu said.
He suggested that the government recapitalises Mopani or find an investor to run the mining firm.
“We have been making a plea with the government to give a clear road map as to what you are going to do in Mopani because with Mopani the issue is very simple. It is about recapitalizing Mopani. Now recapitalising can take two forms. It is either government says since we took over this mine we are going to find money to pump into this mine and the Zambians are going to manage this mine or we can say government does not have the necessary resources to pump into Mopani, we have gone out to find an equity partner and we have found him or we are in talks with this equity partner and the time frame for us to actualize this agenda is so much. So, people can hold on to that.”
“For KCM, the government must be able to tell us, we have drawn the issue out of court. We are currently discussing with Vedanta and the time frame we have given ourselves is this. Every discussion must have a time frame. Every other industry that you can talk about on the Copperbelt is dependent on KCM and Mopani. Today there is only trading left but even when you talk about trading what economic power do people on the Copperbelt have to even trade? So, now the emphasis now is to promote the private sector,” Mr. Mpundu said.