Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) Executive Director Patrick Nshindano says he would have already disconnected Mopani Copper Mines from electricity supply if he were the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) for refusing to pay tax.

In an interview yesterday, Nshindano said Mopani Copper mines could not be exempted from the upward adjustment of electricity tariffs because it was one of the largest consumers of the country’s energy.

Nshindano further advised Mopani to leave the country if it was not ready to comply with the country’s tax obligations.

“Mopani Copper Mines has no basis for actually refusing to realign the tariffs as was agreed in the tariff agreements. As a country we have agreed the direction we are going to take of adjusting the tariffs mainly because they were unsustainable at the point they were, but also because of the challenges that the country has faced in generating energy and we need to ensure that we invest. So a number of reforms are going on which includes revision of tariffs and there is no way that the mining sector can be exempted from the revision of tariffs because they are the largest consumers of energy in this country,” Nshindano said.

“If that exemption is done on the mines then that means only the poor Zambian citizens will have to pay for electricity and there is no way that Zambians can be subsiding big multinational corporations like Mopani Copper Mines. So it’s only inevitable that the revisions are done and undertaken. So the refusal on the part of Mopani Copper Mine to comply is illogical because any responsible corporate needs to realise that we should not only be interested in making profit. When you are investing in a country you need to get a win-win situation where there are benefits that accrue to you as well as benefits that should accrue to the nation.”

Nshindano charged that Mopani was an irresponsible investor which never cared about the interests of Zambians.

“Mopani is on record of having not paid corporate income tax for a very long time mainly because they were not declaring any profits but further to that, there are a number of allegations that have been levelled against Mopani which border on issues to do with tax avoidance as well as environmental degradation. So all these are cases that are there yet to be proved. But all along, what we have been calling for as civil society organisations is that we need responsible investors in this country who have the interest of the nation as well and also those who realise that Zambia needs to come first and avoid these opec agreements that make it difficult for Zambia to benefit from it’s natural resources. The mining sector is one of them,” he said.

Shindano advised the Copperbelt’s Mining giant to leave the country if it did not want to comply with payment of tax.

“We have continued to grapple with the mining sector in terms of taxation and it’s contribution even when you talk about job creation, the mines that are even threatening are actually the lowest employers because of the mechanization and continues to do that including Mopani itself. When Mopani took over the operation of the mines if you compare the number of employees it had and the number of employees it retained is actually a fraction on its own, so we need to ensure that the interests of Zambians are protected and thats why we as CSPR are putting up a call to action not only to our fellow civil society but also to the citizens to be able to rise against such injustices in our society,” said Nshindano.

“It is completely unfair and uncalled for, if Mopani doesn’t want to operate in Zambia let’s find another equitable partner because Zambia has been mining for a very long time and as country, it’s about time we realised that unless we have substantial shares in these mines, we will just remain with pits and these investors would have gone but also the generation that is yet to come will suffer.”