Mines Minister Richard Musukwa has announced that ZCCM-IH chief executive officer Dr Pious Kasolo has been fired.

Musukwa says Dr Kasolo will be replaced the ZCCM-IH chief investment officer Mabuto Chipata.

Meanwhile, Special Assisatnt to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda has distanced himself from a bill board advertising agency called AXXEZ which has been intimidating councils under the pretext that it has been sent by State House.

The duo said this at a press briefing at State House, Friday.

“I would also like to make one confirmation as regard to the Chief Executive Officer for ZCCM-IH, I am advised by the board of ZCCM-IH that the CEO has been relieved of his duties and that with immediate effect the Chief Investment Officer Mr Mabuto Chipata will act until further notice,” Musukwa said.

On Monday, Dr Kasolo said the 2019 mining fiscal regime may affect ZCCM-IH’s profitability and dividends payable to government during the annual report presentation for the year ending March 31, 2018.

When asked to what extent the 2019 mining fiscal regime had affected ZCCM-IH’s profit projections in view of some mining companies’ move to downsize operations on account of the higher taxes, Dr Kasolo said accurate projections were not known at this stage, but expressed concern on ZCCM-IH’s long-term profitability and dividends payable to government.

“At the moment, we can’t say how it’s going to affect ZCCM-IH because most of these taxes haven’t come to fruition. But by projecting some of our investee companies, what we’ve looked at and discussed with them…I can give an example of Lubambe (Copper Mine). The funding to develop that mine has become a bit difficult because the banks have become quite tight with their money because they are not sure about the tax regime in Zambia, when it’s going to change. So, Lubambe is finding it difficult to raise capital,” Dr Kasolo told journalists at Southern Sun Hotel, Monday.

“So, in hindsight, what will happen is that if this are not mitigated, then ZCCM-IH is going to be affected because we get our dividends from these companies. So, I hope the tax debacle is going to be resolved without affecting production in development of these mines.”

But Musukwa said the new mining fiscal regime was never meant to stifle the industry but was meant to build the economy and develop the mining industry.

“I want to state upfront that the new mining fiscal regime which government has put up in relationship with all stakeholders was never meant to stifle on the industry but to the contrary to ensure that we build our economy and develop the mining industry. Government is re-engaging stakeholders, and mining industries to make sure that we have a win-win situation going forward. Regrettably there has been a lot of inaccurate information put across in the public domain to this call with inflated and false predictions painting a picture of the consequences of the policy of government. This definitely has a potential to damage government’s reputation as a desired investment destination. And you are aware that the proponents to this discourse were envisaged to ensure that they develop such a perception,” Musukwa said.

He said the mining industry will continue to be a bedrock of economic survival.

“Zambia is envisaged to ensure that we grow our Mining industry and grow our production owing to the numbers that we have had. For 2018, we produced copper in excess of 862, 000 metric tonnes and our focus is to ensure that we hit the one million tonnes. Zambia’s economy is heavily dependent on the Mining industry. While we envisage diversifying it with other sectors such as Agriculture, Tourism and Construction, mining will continue in a long time will continue to be the bedrock of our economic survival and as such, we are determined as government to ensure that we continue to run the mining industry base on security of tenure for out license holders and running the mining fiscal regime which is simple, predictable and allowing for more investment in the mining sector,” Musukwa said.

“I am extremely grateful that mining houses in our country have come back on the table and discussing with government and there is a positive trend across the mining industry which has now guaranteed the sustained production and the bob security for our employees across the mining industry. I would like to sincerely thank the mining house who have met both the Minister of Finance, Minister of Mines, and His Excellency the president to confirm and allude to the fact that they will continue to invest in our country and also secure the jobs of our people.”

Meanwhile, Chanda distanced State House from AXXEZ advertising media’s activities.

“There is a company [called] AXXEZ media, this company is a billboard advertising media. It is going round purporting that they are acting for Stat House [and] I can confirm that they are not acting for us. The second thing I can confirm that I do not own this company as they are purporting. The third thing is that I can confirm that it is owned by two shareholders but I will not mention the names, you can go to PACRA. So they are neither acting for us nor do I own it. Those dealing with this company can engage them on their own terms as AXXEZ media. Information is that they are bullying chief officers of Lusaka City council, Ndola, Kitwe and Kafue council purporting to be acting for State House. They don’t have instructions of State House to put out Bill boards or to do anything and most importantly I do not own the company, I do not know them, we have no interest directly or indirectly whatsoever,” Chanda said.

He said AXXEZ was trying to bring the name of State House into disrepute.

“It is my utmost disappointment with Lusaka City Council that despite me telling them one year ago that we have nothing to do with this, there is complicity within mischievous chief officers within the country acting along with them (AXXEZ) by saying that we have interest in there. So if any council for any reason have any commercial interest they can do so without bring my name or the name of State House into [it],” said Chanda.