PRESIDENT Lungu yesterday concluded his six-day working visit to the Copperbelt with a call to mine owners, the labour movement and workers to dialogue over challenges the mining sector is facing and to reach a consensus for the benefit of the country.
And President Lungu says he had resounding and successful meetings with mine owners on the Copperbelt.
Speaking at Ndola’s Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport shortly before departure for Lusaka yesterday, the President said his visit to the Copperbelt was successful because he managed to meet both the unions and mine owners to chart the way forward on the operations of the mining sector.
“I thank you so much for the welcome that you accorded us. I have been here for five days and I have seen the challenges and sufferings that are here, especially in the mines. But I want to assure you that I have spoken to mine owners who have been willing to listen.
“I have also met students and the teaching staff at the Copperbelt University and we discussed various issues that were of concern to them and matters were resolved,” Mr Lungu said.
The President said some mine owners highlighted their concerns and indicated that things are tough for them economically but that they would still not send the miners away.
Mr Lungu cited his meeting with China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Corporation Luanshya Copper Mines (CLM) where he told mine owners and the workers to explore ways of keeping the mine running to avoid a complete shutdown.
“The mineworkers should talk to the mine owners because they are willing to talk. You can’t succeed if you use force. You need to sit down and dialogue. I will not be happy to hear that some mines have closed down. Nothing has been built successfully in life without a consensus. You use force, you may succeed today but that victory never lasts,” Mr Lungu said.
And President Lungu has promised that he would return to the Copperbelt for another visit sometime next month so that he can conclude the pending issues.
And the First Lady, Esther Lungu, promised to return to the Copperbelt for her outreach programme aimed at helping vulnerable women in society.
In her farewell remarks, Mrs Lungu thanked Copperbelt residents for the thunderous welcome accorded to her and President Lungu.
“I wanted to meet you as a mother of the nation because no mother is worth being called a mother if she does not know how the children are,” Mrs Lungu said.
Meanwhile, Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge has described President Lungu’s visit to the Copperbelt as timely and important because he addressed many issues on humanity, especially in the mining sector.
Mr Musenge also said President Lungu’s visit was beneficial to the Patriotic Front (PF) because he gave guidance on how to run the party on the Copperbelt and that this has re-energised and strengthened it.
Meanwhile, scores of PF members and government officials braved the early morning rains to bid farewell to President Lungu.
And speaking shortly after arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA), President Lungu said: “Just like the saying goes, you cannot score everything but I have managed to score eight out of 10.”
“I will also be going to other areas but for the Copperbelt, I will go back in December again,” he said.
Meanwhile, KELVIN CHONGO reports that President Lungu’s next destination will probably be Petauke in his on-going visits to the countryside.
“I have not been to the Eastern Province. we could be going to Eastern Province, but we have to see what is happening in Lusaka for a day or two … we will be heading to Tanzania to witness the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President,” he said.
President Lungu said it is important and good to support friends as democracy is entrenched.
Meanwhile, special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said Government will facilitate negotiations with mines for a win-win outcome.
“Generally, President Lungu has met with the mining companies and prepared the ground to secure the majority of jobs,” he said.
Mr Chanda said there will be minimal job losses, if any, because of President Lungu’s intervention.
He said President Lungu has created a fertile ground for Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and the unions to dialogue.
Mr Chanda also said the head of State urged the mining companies to resort to retrenchments as a very last option.
Mr Chanda said President Lungu met the Copperbelt University (CBU) students and pardoned those who were facing disciplinary action.
The President also pardoned all lecturers who were facing disciplinary action.
He said that there is a new start at CBU.
Mr Chanda also said President Lungu met with MCM and that the outlook of what will come is very positive.
President Lungu was received by minister of Defence Richwell Siamunene, Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila, Lusaka Province minister Obvious Mwaliteta, PF and senior government officials.