UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the closure of Mulungushi Textiles is a mockery to Kabwe residents who believed President Edgar Lungu when he claimed the textile factory would be resuscitated.

Government has with immediate effect suspended ‘operations’ at the closed Mulungushi Textiles.

Kabwe district commissioner Dominic Mulenga claimed on Friday that the closure had led to the laying off of all 279 workers.

“It’s a temporary closure to facilitate the installation of the new machines. The process will take between 18 and 24 months and within this process, some of those people will be engaged and after the installation of the new machines, those people who will be there will be called but all the workers today (Friday) have been paid. This is a government-to-government programme. We have found an investor from Japan by the name of Malvern. After a month or two, they will be in the country,” Mulenga said.

“Sometime back, they used to come to the same company to assess. They are aware of the situation so they came and said they can only manage to remove those machines and replace (with) the new ones in this time frame of 18 to 24 months.”

He urged Kabwe residents to “tighten their belts” during the period of closure.

“At the moment, the company has got old machines, dilapidated machines and it is not running effectively. No wonder we have thought of maybe just looking for a new investor by the name of Malvern to come with new machines, new technology, to come and employ more people because at the moment, very few sections are working. But after the installations of the new machines, all the departments will be working and a lot of people will be employed more than it used to be previously,” claimed Kabwe.

But in a statement today, Hichilema stated that the PF was not implementing any of their promises.

“This closure of Mulungushi Textiles by PF plainly indicates campaign falsehood messages by Mr Edgar Lungu. The PF in its current state has no capacity to turn around the country’s economy and let alone create jobs for the masses. But we must not relent and anchor our hope on a new leadership that values job creation for the people,” stated Hichilema.