THE new Minister of Mines should be a practical person who should be on the ground to know the challenges and problems the sector and its workers are facing in their day-to-day operations, says Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Joseph Chewe.
Mr Chewe has also said the Ministry of Labour should have teeth to bite exploitative investors who had no regard for labour laws, but were merely using workers as tools of production.
The MUZ chief said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that the mining sector was facing a lot of challenges which needed a focused approach to resolve and manage the industry.
“So the new Minister of Mines should be a practical person who should be on the ground to know the challenges and problems the sector and its workers are facing in their day-to-day operations. “We don’t want a minister who will just be seated in the office receiving reports and issuing statements on things he or she does not know and on places he or she has not been to. We want a mines minister who will be conversant with the challenges of the mining industry,’’ he said.
‘‘Equally, the Ministry of Labour should also have teeth to deal with investors who had no regard for labour laws, but were merely using workers as tools of production.’’
Mr Chewe said it was sad that in the recent past the union had seen some investors abrogating labour laws with impunity and boasting that they were untouchable because they were connected to the labour office including individual officers at the Ministry of Labour.
“This time around, we would like to see an effective labour ministry which will protect the interest of the workers and not a labour ministry which will get bribes from exploitative investors,” he said. He said after supporting the Patriotic Front (PF) government and President Edgar Lungu on August 11, miners in particular and Zambians in general would like to see that the ruling party delivered on its campaign promises of creation of decent jobs, empowerment of local people and other things which would improve the lives of Zambians.
He said the high unemployment levels in Zambia required that Government should woo investors to create decent jobs and treat workers as partners in development.
He also urged Government to evaluate the performance of existing mining companies to see if they had performed according to agreement.