INDEED. GREEDY MINE OWNERS SHOULD GO
_President Lungu is ‘Veli Veli’ on this one._
By Miles B. Sampa
04:15am. Jetlag. No sleep. I cant help but utilise this time to speak out on the current Copper Mines debacle.
I know Lusaka is not a mining city save for a few quarries and limestone investments.
I however have a ‘loci standi’ on the topic because I was once deputy Minister of Finance in 2012 and came face to face with the wrath of these Mine owners.
Theirs is like a mineral religion that worships certain philosophies such as;
-You touch one mine, you touch all.
– Pay as less possible if not zero tax to Government.
– Armtwist Governments to force them into submission.
As deputy Minister of Finance, one Mine had hired an oxbridge professor as their tax consultant out of the UK, his job was to come to Lusaka every month and bore me with very long meetings lobbying on why his mine should pay less tax and why Government should refund them on this and that.
I remember him lecturing me that if his mine froze Copper export and not pay MOF tax just for 3 months, the national treasury would go burst and fail to pay civil servants salaries.
As it were, he was right. Our economic eggs and source of national cash have been put in the mine owners basket since the so called privatisation in mid 90s.
China is now about the fastest developing nation with double digits economy growth in some provinces.
The China success story reminds us that national wealth need to be partly in state hands and not in private captalist shareholders. There has to be a mix.
In China every sector has both hands of Government control and private sector control. A good example is the ICT industry companies Huawei and ZTE.
Huawei is owned by private investors while ZTE is owned by the Government of China. As a result, there is so much fierce performance and pricing competition between the two companies to outdo each other.
I have visted both companies before and their biggest department is called R & D (Research & Development). Imagine over 500 intelligent young highly paid workers in a classroom situation thinking and researching on new products to be ahead of competition.
In 10 years, Huawei and ZTE have overtaken America’s ICT giant Sisco by far.
In 2018 Huawei had $100 billion sales turnover while ZTE had about $45 billion despite the enhanced ‘cooked’ exhorbitant penalties on the two companies from the USA government.
President Trump has now turned to political armtwisting of Huawei and ZTE to save USA’s Sisco, Apple and Google from going bankrupt. Laws are now being signed in the USA to protect the local USA industries from efficient and cost effective Chinese companies. What Mr Trump does not realise is that China’s R&D is 10 advanced. They will be little shaken by any of his manouvres.
My point on the local scene is that Zambia cannot continue to watch as foreign Mine owners take our copper for a song.
It was therefore sweet Rod Stewart music to my ears a few days ago upon hearing our able President Mr Edgar Changwa Lungu publicly say the Mine owners in Zambia can go if they insist on armtwisting the Government over tax.
Sir, this move is long overdue and thank you for taking this stance.
Its time we said No to these mine ‘infestors’ taking our copper for free.
We may aswell leave the copper underground than dig it out with no tangible benefit to citizens. Our folks left it for us and we can leave it under for our children and great grand children.
Like in China, our stance should be that the state takes over majority if not 100% ownership of the mines.
Now watch out these Mines owners or cartels hire in dollars some selfish Zambians to play vuvuzela against the imminent take over of Mines. Not all are patriotic Zambians but this is one statement from the President that should be applauded by all Zambian nationals.
Your Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, I salute you Sir for this brave but long over due decision.
In 2012, I visited a mine in North Western after a tip off. They refused but I insisted to tour their Gold production unit. Full of electronic security gadgets and no Zambian was allowed beyond certain points.
Our copper ore in the region is of such high quality and with proper equipment, it gives out Gold as a by-product. For the first time in my life I saw and held first grade (99.9% pure) Gold mined in Zambia.
Guess what, I later discovered that a small private jet secretly came into Solwezi from South Africa once a week to airlift the well sealed Gold.
The plane would land at Solwezi airport or private mine airstrips. I questioned ZRA in the area at the time. They had no clue on the Gold. The Egoli was therefore leaving Zambia with zero contribution to the national resource envelope.
I screamed about my discovery then but as was the usual, I guess my voice as a ‘small boy’ was not loud enough.
I would not be surprised if that ka plane still sneaks into Solwezi and if someone tries to speak out, the Mine owners would rush to armtwist Boma.
Thats is why I find the President’s statement a big relief and a milestone.
Sir: your current stance on Mines has shown us that you are a patriot and true nationalist.
uMukuba Taubola Your Excellency.
I commend you Sir.
Those Mines that are refusing to pay sales tax, ‘tibasiye bayende kumunzi kwao’. We should unite as Zambians and dig out the Copper with hands if need be.
As said, we can also opt to leave the Copper undergound. It wont rot.
Our children and future generation will come thank us one day for the Copper they will find left for them underground.