Rainbow Party General Secretary Wynter Kabimba says he will not be surprised if other investors start blackmailing the government by threatening to fire workers like Mopani Copper Mines did when CEC disconnected it from power.
And Kabimba says the Universal Routine HIV testing will result in more deaths because people will start shunning hospitals for fear of victimisation.
Featuring on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme yesterday, Kabimba observed that government’s failure to disclose the conditions under which power was restored back to Mopani copper mines by the Coperbelt Energy Corporation showed a weakness on its part.
“We don’t even know how it has been resolved, all we hear is that is has been resolved. The impasse was whether or not Mopani Copper Mines should pay the new ZESCO tariffs that are being paid by the ordinary Zambians, the poor people of this country and Mopani was resisting that to the extent that it was even threatening or blackmailing the government to retrench over 4000 miners if matters were not resolved in Mopani’s favour. So we don’t really know what this resolution is all about, we don’t don’t know the details like if CEC has backed down and allowed Mopani to continue with the old tariffs or whether or not Mopani has accepted the new ZESCO tariffs,” Kabimba wondered.
“You can’t have an investor blackmailing the government which was elected by the people. You can’t have Ministers pleading with an investor to pay when that issue is a matter of policy. So the way the whole matter was approached shows a lot of weakness on the part of the government and would not be surprised if other investors took the call from Mopani and decided to do the same in future.”
He regretted that the high copper prices on the international market had no impact on ordinary Zambians.
“The mining industries contribute over 80 per cent of our domestic revenue even in terms of foreign exchange, so we have to ensure that that industry is very stable and is being run in a manner where the Zambian people see the benefits. So far I don’t think that Zambians have seen the expected benefit whether copper prices are high or they are low. All that we hear are excuses when copper prices are low but when the prices are high, what do we hear? Corporate social responsibility that they have built a one classroom block and a small clinic in a community. I think the fundamental point that we want to hear from government is that the mining companies are paying the required tax to government. That is the money that needs to go towards the development of this country. We don’t want to negotiate with the mines, they must pay the prescribed tax,” Kabimba said.
Meanwhile, Kabimba wondered why President Edgar Lungu did not test for HIV when declaring mandatory testing for the general public.
“Well, I wish the President and his Cabinet would have lined up themselves for testing at that function that day and told us their results. It would have been fair that way but they just declared it and walked away. We want to know the [HIV] status of the President and every cabinet Minister, they must set the example over this HIV testing. But the response to this came from the Human Rights Commission (HRC) who said this is against the international legal instruments on HIV and I think they have got a point,” he said.
“Secondly it has not been clearly explained and let me tell you what is going to happen, because of the stigma attached to HIV in communities, people will shun going to government health facilities. The HIV infection not like malaria where when someone is found with it people want to only sympathize with you because the moment you tell people I went to the hospital and they found that I am HIV positive, everyone would want to know how many people you have slept with.”
Kabimba also said government had literally killed farmers by putting the purchasing price of a 50kg bag of maize at K60.
“The peasant and small scale farmer has a problem this year, purely on account of the decision by government to allow a liberalized market for maize and soya beans. Last year the floor price that was announced by government was k75 but because it was an election year, the President intervened personally and increased that to k85 . This year we are told by the same President that this should be a buyer and seller’s market. Let the buyer and seller negotiate, he chose not to intervene this year because he doesn’t need a vote from anybody and he thinks in 2021 people would have forgotten about what happened but just watch what happens in 2021. The benchmark for maize price has always been the FRA floor price so this year it is K60 and no private buyer would want to buy at more than k60. So really, what government has done this year is to kill the peasant farmer.”
And Kabimba further condemned EEP leader Chilufya Tayali for carrying out a naked protest against Inspector General of police Kakoma Kanganja.
“Let’s be serious about the nation. This issue of giving too much credit to tantrums is not right. I have respect for the police myself including the IG, he may have his own failings but I don’t agree that the best way to argue is to insult those that are in office such as the IG and his men and women in uniform. The best way to put across a point is to come to a Radio station like this and speak to them in the most polite language and say that you are not doing things right or better still put it in writing, but to walk in boxer shorts from freedom statue is just not correct in my view,” said Kabimba.