MINES and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe says government will ensure that investors in the mining sector are properly taxed so that they are not discouraged from making investments.
Addressing management at Nonferrous Company Africa Mining (NFCA) in Kalulushi, Wednesday, Kabuswe said mining was key to the country’s economic development
“Mining is key to our economic development. We want to have the right benefit. Actually, with the President, we have said we are going to have a tax regime that will be a win-win. You should be properly taxed so that you are not discouraged in your investments. We have to have a proper tax regime. We know in the past you have had today they tax you like this, tomorrow they tax you like that, the other day they tax you something else,” he said.
“As a new dawn government with Hakainde Hichilema we are saying there should be stability in the economy, there should be predictability. You have to be predictable. Mining is a long-term investment, you would want to plan for three years, for five years, for 10 years. It’s only a stable economy that can help you plan. That we are working on and coming up with a proper policy but please I repeat, take care of my workers.”
Kabuswe urged management at NFCA to treat Zambian employees fairly and to also look at their safety conditions.
“I am alive to the fact that you need to protect your investment very well and President HH and his team are going to give you that. We are going to allow you to operate, we are going to allow you to be professional, but please take care of my workers, take care of the Zambia workers. I want your car park filled with vehicles driven by Zambian employees of NFC, that shows success. I want [you] to succeed but I want my worker who comes to work for you to succeed because that is a Zambian who owns that mineral wealth that you are investing in. We are alive to the fact that of course there are fluctuations to copper prices, and sometimes the environment can be unfriendly. But for us as Zambia, Zambia is an investment destination choice because we have peace. When we talk to our people we tell them ‘guys, let’s support our investors and make sure they are working in a friendly environment’ but at the same time please we want you to keep our workers well,” he said.
“The complaints are too much, they are making noise in my head. So as Minister, I want to be receiving good reports. We need to have a win-win situation. CEO please try to relook at how you are keeping the workers. We don’t want to be on different pages, we want to pull in one direction as one country, we are in a hurry to develop. We are grateful for so many jobs but try to look at their safety conditions. Please we want you to orient your junior officers. The treatment of the Zambian workers apart from the salary that they get, please treat them as human beings. Reorient your subordinates, we are all human beings and might have different colors whatever but we all have a nose and a mouth and everything, we are all human. Can we treat people like human beings even when they are working for you.”
The mines minister said reports of Zambian workers being intimidated needed to come to an end.
“Imagine CEO a scenario where there is unruliness amongst workers. Look at your investment, US$1.4 billion, no one would want to lose such kind of money. Even me as your minister, I feel that you have done it but you are missing one point, the worker and the common person on the streets. The city must reflect this beauty that I’m seeing. Look at your offices, yourselves, the mine itself. Can it reflect on the city where you are living? We appreciate your corporate social responsibility. I’m so excited about your plans but in that plan that you have made, include the benefit of the common Zambian on the street. That is critical to your success because when you are operating in a hostile environment, it becomes difficult,” he said.
“The environment must be peaceful for you. The worker must come for work motivated, the workers must come for work happy. Give them certain incentives where you recover from their salaries. Whatever policies that you come up, protect your investment at the same time look after my worker. Pay the right taxes then for me as Minister for mines we are good to go and I’m sure for his Excellency the President we are good to go. Alas if these issues are not followed, we promised our people that you are going to have a good life, let’s give them a good life with you our investors. I need to stop hearing the noise from NFC workers, I need to stop hearing that noise. I need to stop hearing the intimidation of our workers, please CEO.”
Meanwhile, Kabuswe called on Zambian suppliers and contractors to supply the right material.
“Use Zambians to supply and when they are too expensive, negotiate with them. Let’s be deliberate in the way we do these things. I also want through the press to urge my Zambian suppliers and contractors, let’s do the correct thing, let us supply the right material. Let us stop doing substandard things so that our investors can also support our industry because sometimes we may be to blame because we may be bringing substandard things. Mining requires that the equipment that we supply to them is good material,” said Kabuswe.