MINES Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Joseph Chewe says the union is not ashamed of supporting President Edgar Lungu because he has salvaged the mining sector.

In an interview, Chewe said President Lungu had done what other Presidents had failed to do in the past by not siding with investors.

“The mining sector experienced numerous challenges, KCM is now partially resolved, workers have been paid. The challenge at Mopani was huge, from the union we were saying how are we going to handle this problem and the workers’ welfare? We thank God that the Head of State has been equal to the task to resolve the challenges that have engulfed the mining industry. That is why we can only appreciate him, because most of the previous presidents, they have failed, they were siding with investors,” Chewe said.

“Him at least he has chosen to listen to the workers, to the union and eventually these issues have been resolved. So, we cannot overlook what this government has done. They have been able to assist the workers and the country. I think God will always bless the President for what he has done for the miners. That is why we are not ashamed to support him for what he has done. He has performed well in the mining sector so that is why we are not ashamed in the mining sector to support him because he has salvaged the mining industry.”

Chewe thanked President Lungu for helping workers at Mopani access their accrued benefits, which he said they would start getting on August 6.

“Mopani is one of the mines that was privatised in 2000. So when this mine was privatised in 2000, the benefits of the workers were put in trusts. This money has been in trusts for the past 20 years. Workers have been pushing the unions for government to pay these benefits. So, when Glencore announced care and maintenance, you would recall that the union pushed that Glencore should just leave the mine as it is than closing the mine. The government supported the union, particularly the Head of State that we can’t close the mine because of the reason Glencore advanced. Following that position, workers started demanding benefits because they feared that money would go to the trust fund which has not helped the workers. So, we started pushing for benefits,” said Chewe.

“So, it has been a push and we have been pushing until the Head of State agreed with the union that what had happened at KCM can also happen at Mopani. So, we can now confirm that the management of Mopani and the Union signed a collective agreement to add a clause for workers to access the accrued benefits up to 31st July 2021. So, following the signing of that agreement workers including myself will start getting the money this Friday on 6th August. These benefits will be paid in three equal instalments, which will be the 6th August, 2021, the next payment will be done on 1st October 2021 and then the last payment will be paid on 31st January 2022. The company does not have money to pay the benefits at once to the workers. So, we are very grateful to the President himself. This is their pensions, the money is intended to cushion and help workers to start businesses.”