Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Vain-Glory and the People's Welfare
THIS IS HOW I EARN A LIVING! A Youth in Solwezi Town working on a locally made motor to grind maize for the poor in this locality. He is working on a 'make-believe' kind of a machine when he could as well be empowered and do this work at another level. He has taught himself how to repair this brute to make ends meet while his constituency's Member of Parliament lavishes in wealth!
When you look around you in any country in Africa where there’s massive deposits of Natural resources, there is always other types of looting that bypasses our attention; the illegal logging and the local workforce. I have read and was profoundly shocked with the payments and treatments the local workforce is accorded. But in all these our Leaders still stand ‘head tall’ calling such demeaning investments a ‘success!’ One question I would like to ask though; Who Audits the revenues from massive natural rain forests cleared by the investors in the Extractive Industries in our Countries? As you read this, I hope this will lead us into more query to verify what is revealed here...
“Chambishi would have not reopened if ‘mad’ man took over from Levi!” So read the headline on one of the issues on the Post Newspapers in the week. This was supposedly said by the republican president of Zambia, Rupiah Banda.
This is true to some extent. Principally, Chambishi was reopened to answer to the needs of the local people and Zambians from other parts of the country that were employed and were at risk of losing even the little they earned from their ‘jobs’ at the smelter.
It was a good thing and a matter to be highlighted, even by the Head of State and all would have rallied behind him for applause if the 600 people were really making a living from the supposed jobs they went back to.
Every one of us was proud to hear the President say that with un-minced words that Chambishi copper smelter will employ 600 people. The 600 people have already been employed and they are getting a gross monthly payment of 540,000/- Zambian Kwacha per month inclusive of housing allowance and overtime.
In simple arithmetic, if you multiply 540,000/- by 600 employees times 12 months you find that Non Ferrous Company of Africa (NFCA) from China in collaboration with Zambia Consolidated Copper Mining (ZCCM) is spending 3, 888,000,000 Zambian Kwacha, which is equivalent to USD 845,000 at the current exchange rate.
The current PAYE threshold is 800,000 Zambian Kwacha meaning all the 600 employees are not contributing to the national treasury.
NFCA has capacity to produce 150,000 metric tons of Copper blisters which is worth USD 900,000,000 at the current copper price of USD 6,000 per metric ton. So the wage bill is 0.093% of gross income and the government is ‘bragging’ that we have investors.
The need to Review Policies
It is better for the government to go back and review all the policies governing the extractive industry and come up with a long lasting solution for the benefit of the Zambian People rather than ‘siding’ with the investors.
In a number of instances, we have heard of how much Copper goes out and other developments in home countries of the investors in Zambia and other parts of Africa. Recently, we were faced by a hard reality that there is a Konkola University in India, taking after the name of the Copper mining company in Chingola where the world’s second largest open pit mining is hosted – Nchanga.
This is what our countries in Africa must put up with. This is what Zambia has to put up with.
Zambia is proud of being the country in which the second largest open pit mining is hosted after Chile, while India boasts of a higher learning institution where the present generation and the generations to come with get knowledge and come to enslave Zambians and loot more!
It is time for Zambians and the sitting government to open floor for the citizenry – those with expertise and patriotic to scrutinise how much the government has received through Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and tell the nation how much money in tax NCFA have paid so far.
While the world knows Zambia by the production of Copper; it also said by the experts that the copper blister which is processed and exported by the smelter contains 0.4% Gold. Therefore, this means that each ton of copper exported there is 4kg of Gold worth USD 92,000 more than the price of a ton of copper.
All these are matters that need to be attended to without wasting time. If it be true that the investors in the Copper mining are also getting Gold; then it is time for the government to hasten in collaboration with the ministry having oversight on Copper mining issues to look into this matter.
It is very easy for the government to tell us in Africa that ‘these’ are lies but fall short to prove to the citizenry beyond any reasonable doubt that these things that we hear and some we know through discussions with stakeholders, are indeed lies!
While a number of Jaguar and other luxury cars regular Zambian roads, the question is “who really benefits from the loot and at whose expense?