The Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors has demanded that a labour audit be conducted in the mining sector to ascertain the over stay of expatriates.The Association is accusing the mining firms of having formed cartels aimed at depriving Zambians of opportunities to do business with the mines.
This is according to a document of outcomes produced after the Association held a meeting last Friday with Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo and Transport and Logistics Members at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium Conference room under the theme “Economic Freedom and Citizen Participation.”The Association observed that some countries in the region have put up laws that restrict foreigners to participate in the local economy if they are not in partnership with the locals.“Tanzania has restricted trucks from carrying cargo from their ports to Zambia. They have used the port to create employment in the transport sector. Botswana has restricted any foreigner from setting up a company unless a Tswana is on board and it should be 50-50. No one has blamed them. That’s how they want to run their affairs. And us we can leverage on copper and create employment and bulk businesses,” read part of the document.
The Association also stated that all mines on the Copperbelt and North-western provinces have opened up offices in South Africa, Australia and India thereby giving business to those countries, creating employment in those countries and depriving Zambians.The Association has since requested Mr Lusambo that these offices must be closed and relocated back to Zambia.On payments, the Association observes that payments are taking too long to local suppliers and contractors as opposed to foreign competitors who normally get paid even before delivery.
The Association members felt that this is a ploy to disadvantage Zambians and aimed at reducing their capacities in managing their businesses.
“Further they proposed that a law must be put in place that will allow local companies to be paid within15 days in order to accelerate compliance with government institutions such as ZRA,” the document further read.The Association further stated that mines have created serious cartels among themselves in procurement, transportation, services and supply.It said mining firms have formed companies who are doing serious works and Zambians have no access to such high valued opportunities for businesses.“These mines are using agency and QEM issues to exclude us from business and that the tendency of buying everything from South Africa and South African companies should come to an end.”
The Association members also noted that it is practically impossible for Zambians to have access to the mine sites which makes it difficult to access business since there is no link with the end users.
The Association also observed that it has become impossible for Zambian companies to be registered in the mines as vendors but very easy for foreigners to be registered even in areas were Zambians are already operating thus displacing them.They submitted that registration process must be opened up to all and that the process should be shortened and should not be managed from outside Zambia.The members also submitted that a threshold of minimum of K2.5 million worth of jobs should be given to Zambians and anything above should be procured through open tender.
“Trading should be left to Zambians because it requires no expertise since all required information and specification are given by the Mines and the same applies to services and contracts,” the document read.The Association members have since urged Mr Lusambo that a strong policy is needed to protect Zambians doing business in the mining sector and those who are manufacturing goods which are being imported from outside disadvantaging local manufacturers and killing their innovations.They said government and the Associations should identify products that are being imported but have a high chance of being manufactured locally in order to develop the local manufacturing industry.Association President Augustine Mubanga has since thanked Mr Lusambo for what he called candid leadership and interest in resolving the challenges that has lingered for too long in the mining sector.
Mr Mulenga said this has created hope that government will come up with immediate measures to support suppliers, contractors and transporters on the Copperbelt.