PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed district commissioners in Chingola, Mufulira and Kitwe to find land for retrenched miners who want to venture into agriculture after being retrenched at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM).
And Government will not tax the K18,000 stand alone payment which would be given to the retrenched miners at MCM after the three mine workers union negotiations for a better package with the management at the mining company.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Joseph Chewe said President Lungu’s decision to direct DC’s to find land for retrenched miners who wanted to venture into agriculture had come after the unions meeting with him where they requested for land for the affected miners.
Apart from giving retrenched miners pieces of land for agricultural purposes, Mr Chewe said President Lungu also agreed to a proposal that the stand alone K18,000 payment which MCM had given to the retrenched miners should not be taxed.
The MUZ general secretary said yesterday during press briefing at Katilungu House in Kitwe that President Lungu was equally touched by the laying off of more than 4,000 miners at MCM and was trying to find a way of helping them recover after losing their jobs. At the press briefing which was attended by National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) president James Chansa, United Minersworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) president Wisdom Ngwira and Zambia Union of Nurses Organization (ZUNO) officials, Mr Chewe said miners should consider going into agriculture after being laid off.
“Both the Government and the mineworkers unions were against job losses, but the falling copper prices forced MCM to layoff the miners. With this situation, we requested Government to provide land for retrenched miners who wanted to venture into agriculture. President Edgar Lungu agreed to our request.
“He has since directed DCs for Mufulira, Kitwe and Chingola to find land for retrenched miners who want to venture in agriculture.
He also agreed to our proposal that Government should not tax the K18,000 stand alone payment which MCM had given to retrenched miners after negotiations,” Mr Chewe said.
And Mr Chewe has pleaded with Stanbic Bank not to withhold all the money which retrenched miners owe it in terms of loans, but give them half like Standard Chartered Bank was doing.
He said Stanbic Bank should have a ‘human heart’ on retrenched miners who owe it money through loans by not getting all the money which it was owed, but get only half of the owed money.
“Instead of getting all the amount from our members and leaving them with nothing, they should get half of the amount and leave our members with something,” He said. And speaking later, UMUZ President Wisdom Ngwira said miners who will be given land should put it to good use, instead of selling it again.