An ex-miner and energy policy researcher, James Musonda, says people on the Copperbelt have lost confidence in the government.
Musonda claims that the citizens are now treating the statements by President Hakainde Hichilema on the revival of the struggling mines as unserious.
“People no longer take the President and his Mines Minister, Paul Kabuswe’s statements on Mopani Copper Mines and Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) seriously. Many people switch off their minds when the two are speaking,” he alleged.
Musonda said in an interview on Tuesday in Kitwe that “evidently” the UPND have nothing to offer.
“The Patriotic Front (PF) had nothing too. But that is why we retired them,” he said.
Musonda said that it was regrettable that the party in power had failed to disclose the Mopani purchase deal, discussions with Glencore about the deal and what constraints they have faced as well as their discussions with potential investors.
He claimed that the President Hichilema had indicated while on the Copperbelt that they had found the money to invest in Mopani without stating how much, from where, on what terms and how such investment by the state fit in with the current Mopani deal, which allows Glencore to get all the profits and to buy all the copper cheaply.
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Musonda said the UPND had been secretive by keeping everyone including unions out of the Mopani and KCM discussions.
“This contradicts their promise of transparency. The UPND has been accused of receiving bribes by former the President, Edgar Lungu, and of being puppets of the west by Socialist Party leader, Fred Mmeembe, and others. To-date, they have failed to dispute these allegations,” he said.
Musonda accused government of giving away close to K6 billion through mineral royalties without guarantees from the mines of providing decent jobs or demonstrating how these measures will benefit Zambians.
“The largest Nickel mine which they boast of will only create 700 contract jobs that lack pensions, will be poorly paid and without job security. So, let the Minister and President say whatever they want to say,” he said.
Musonda is Senior Researcher in Energy Policy at the Institute for Economic Justice, Johannesburg and holds a PhD in Politics and Social Sciences from University of Liège, Belgium.
In 2021, he won Terence Ranger Prize for his work on Zambian Copperbelt miners and he is a former trade unionist.
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