The PF government cannot take action against Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) for not paying its contractors because senior government officials are the biggest suppliers for KCM, says 2021 presidential aspirant Harry Kalaba.

And Kalaba says he does not need the permission of any court for him to contest the 2021 general elections because it is his constitutional right.

Speaking when he featured on a special interview on iWave radio in Chingola, Kalaba charged that the PF government could not take any action against KCM because the mining giant fed government officials and gave them handouts.

“The reason you are currently having problems with KCM is because your leaders are dining with the bosses at KCM… the President was here recently, who prepared for the hosting of the President? It was KCM, everything is KCM, the boardroom was for KCM. How then can KCM pay their suppliers and contractors if the government that is supposed to ask them to do that is eating their food? Can government really have the authority to instruct them to do what is right? These jokes in government must come to an end, people are suffering and dying from diseases that are not supposed to kill them all because of the selfishness of the government. KCM is the biggest employer here in Chingola, now if KCM doesn’t want to pay contractors and suppliers and other workers then what will become of Chingola?” Kalaba asked.

“The Minister of Mines gave KCM a seven day ultimatum in which KCM needed to pay its workers but that seven days has elapsed and KCM is not worried about the action government would take because they know that MPs amd other top leaders in PF are the biggest suppliers for KCM. So how can they end this problem? Each time they want some money for fuel or any pocket money, they just go to KCM and ask for a little something. But you can’t run a country like that, takwaba, you cannot have your cake and then eat all. So this is the problem we have at hand and we want a leadership that would challenge KCM to say ‘what you are doing is wrong and it cannot continue in Zambia because you are making people suffer. This behaviour by KCM will kill this town of Chingola because the way it is with contractors, once you owe them their salary arrears then it means the suppliers will also be under pressure from the bank they borrowed money from. And they are even seated saying ‘no we will talk to them and everything will be okay’.”

Kalaba warned that KCM’s days in Zambia were numbered.

“We want our people to be saved from this suffering, KCM is having their last laugh. We have to stand up and say ‘no’ to this nonsense, it’s too much, mwachusha abantu pafula [you have mistreated people enough] and we can’t continue like this. So for me this issue of KCM, I am following it steadily because I want to see how far this story will go and how many more deaths will be recorded in the future. Why is KCM so special? KCM is not the only mining company that we have in this country, we have Lumwana, we have Kansanshi,” he said.

“So why don’t we hear these issues of none payment to contractors are Lumwana and these other mines? So the only thing that is special about KCM is that they are eating with leaders in the PF government, that’s the only reason why they are so special. Anything else, if they were not giving our leaders any kickbacks, they would have already been dealt with. I know how my colleagues [in PF] deal with issues. So the only reason why KCM is special is that the biggest suppliers are the leaders in PF, that’s the only reason why they are special. So for me I sending notice to KCM that today they can get away with it but I can tell them that days are numbered. And you know who is suffering in the end? it’s the local people of Chingola. Really what kind of selfishness is this?”

Meanwhile, Kalaba said he does not need the court’s permission to contest elections in 2021.

“In 2021 I am also going to contest the Presidency because I am eligible to stand. And in this country, anyone can stand as President as long as you are 35 years old, that’s what our constitution says. If you are 35 years old, you can stand as President. So I am eligible, I qualify to stand as President and I don’t even need to consult the courts if I can stand as President or not, for me it’s straight forward. So in 2021 I am standing because I am convinced that the problems we have as country require the effort of all us as citizens to be addressed. So please support me by voting for me so that we can save this country of ours,” said Kalaba.