PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has engaged mining companies to prevent massive job losses on the Copperbelt following reports that job cuts are looming due to reduced copper prices on the international market.
The mining companies have also assured President Lungu in meetings that they are ready to invest heavily to make mines more resilient to low copper prices and subsequently save jobs.
Acting Chief Government spokesperson Vincent Mwale and President’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda told journalists at State House yesterday that the President is on top of things.
Media reports indicated that about 2,000 miners at Luanshya Copper Mines and 4,000 at Mopani Copper Mines have been laid off amid low copper prices coupled with increased power outages.
But Mr Mwale said the number of job losses were far much lower than what was being portrayed in the media.
“The President is on top of things. He doesn’t want to see mass job losses in the mining sector. This is in the interest of the nation and the economy,” Mr Mwale said.
The President had been meeting mining companies this week while workers’ unions have also had meetings from Monday into yesterday to discuss matters that concern them.
Mr Chanda said in the meetings, the mining companies and in particular Mopani Copper Mines had assured President Lungu of huge investments to modernise the mine in Mufulira and Kitwe.
He said the investments would be made in the next 18 months and would make the mine more resilient to shocks like low copper prices.
“I have seen figures like 4,000 and 6,000. I just can’t say because there are still negotiations going on, but the actual numbers are far much lower than what is been reported,” Mr Chanda said.
On the strength of the Kwacha, Mr Chanda said the President had made huge pronouncements in Parliament last Friday indicating Government’s intention to diversify the economy which would make the Kwacha stronger.
He said it was unfortunate that critics wanted him to mention the word Kwacha when he addressed the weakness of the currency but that he did address the issue when he spoke of economic diversification.
The Bank of Zambia and the Ministry of Finance has put in mechanisms that have so far seen the Kwacha bounce from over K10 against a dollar to less than K10.
The Government did not want statements to be issued from various angles because that was part of the problem that caused a weak Kwacha.