Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says Mopani Copper Mines (MCM)’s threat to retrench close to 5,000 miners if Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) sticks to cost-reflective tariffs is an insult to the Zambian people and the government.

In a statement, Sinkamba stated that his party found the announced plan to prune 4,700 workers, a perfect example of corporate impunity bred from protectionist policies.

“The threat is actually an insult to the Zambian government and its people. It is nauseating. If MCM proceeds to implement its threat, we urge Government to invoke its golden share to outvote all other shares in on this issue. The golden share held by Government in all mines gives the government the right of decisive vote, thus to vote all other shares, in a shareholders-meeting,” Sinkamba stated.

He stated that the golden share, which was entrenched in all vesting agreements for the privatized mines was designed to prevent stake-building above a certain percentage ownership level, and to give government veto powers over any major corporate action, such as retrenchments or sale of a major asset or subsidiary or of the company as a whole.

“As we the Greens have always stated, protectionism in the mining sector, entrenched through development agreements (Das), and other agreements, such as bulk power supply agreements, has had a negative effect on economic growth and economic welfare. This policy has hurt consumers in general, and suppliers and manufactures and workers not only in mining but other sectors as well. It is exactly for this reason that the late President Levy Mwanawasa scrapped the DA clauses in 2008 following the enactment of the Mines and Minerals Development Act of 2008. It is high time that government revisited and scrapped other protectionist legacies in the mining sector,” Sinkamba stated

He stated that MCM needed to be reminded that ZESCO, which generates power in question, was financed through Eurobond money that would need to be repaid.

“Where will the Zambian people get this money to repay this loan if MCM is going to get subsidised power? Where is the justification for subsidised power to this mining company when the price of copper on the world market has increased by 30 per cent from US$4,200 last year to US$6,000 at the moment? Where is the justification when CEC has proposed a meagre 10 per cent tariff increase to mining companies when the voters are paying 75 percent tariff increase? Where is the justification, when all other mines are paying the increased tariffs, some of them paying even higher than 10 per cent, despite all their challenges of dewatering? The solution to end this MCM impunity lies in the government invoking its golden share, if government is serious with national security and national economy,” stated Sinkamba.