11 August 2012

Zambia: Collum Mine Still Closed

Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt
File photo: The mine union condemned the violent act by the employees at the Collum Coal mine and has since called for the law to take its course.

COLLUM Coal Mine operations in Sinazongwe District will temporary remain suspended until the Government and the directors of the mine thoroughly address all pressing issues, Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Stephen Kampyongo has said.

Police arrested 12 suspects in connection with the killing of a Chinese national, Wu Shengzai, 50, at the mine following a riot earlier in the week.

The riot was sparked by what the workers termed as Collum Mine management's delay to effect the recently announced minimum wage. Five suspects appeared in the Choma Magistrate Court on Wednesday.

On Thursday, two Deputy Ministers of Home Affairs, Mr Kampyongo and his counterpart, Nixon Chilangwa; Southern Division Police Commissioner, Charity Katanga and other senior Government officials undertook a tour of the mine to assess the security situation.

Speaking when he addressed more than 50 workers, Mr Kampyongo said his ministry would recommend reopening of the mine after all issues were addressed.

The mine has more than 800 employees stationed in different mining shafts.

He said all relevant ministries and the directors of Collum Coal Mine would have to meet soon to iron out misunderstandings.

"As a ministry, we want to ensure there is security for investors and workers. We need to find lasting solutions and put strategic mechanisms to prevent future incidences of riots and loss of lives," he said.

His ministry, along with Labour and Mines, Collum Coal Mine directors and Mine-workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) officials were scheduled to hold a caucus meeting yesterday.

During the meeting, it was discovered that the mine had two workers' unions, MUZ and the Gemstone Allied Workers Union of Zambia.

And Mr Chilangwa complained to some Chinese officials during an earlier meeting at their offices for failing to employ an interpreter to provide effective communication between employers and workers.

He wondered how Chinese and their workers related to each other when employees had difficulties in understanding Chinese language.

MUZ Southern region senior organising secretary, Bernard Dolopo said the union had always been engaging the mine management in dialogue and was saddened that workers resorted to rioting.

Sinazongwe Constituency Member of Parliament, Richwell Siamunene thanked the Government for exhibiting leadership in resolving the impasse at the mine.

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