By Michael Kasonde
EX-MINERS in Kalulushi and Mufulira say they never knew they were dealing with crooks who crooked them just for votes.
Speaking in Kalulushi on Sunday after holding a meeting to chart the way forward over what they termed government’s failure to give them land and other promises prior to the August 11 elections, group representative Kelvin Siwale said the former miners regretted supporting the PF because they had now been abandoned.
Over 10,000 miners on the Copperbelt lost jobs after the mines cut their workforce over dwindling copper prices and the hike in mineral taxes by the government.
Following the job losses, the Patriotic Front and Edgar Lungu promised to pay the ex-miners and provide land where they could start farming.
But only a few have so far been given the promised pieces of land.
“We are among thousands of miners that lost jobs during those mass layoffs in various mines on the Copperbelt last year. We were told that since most of us separated with our companies with little moneys and others walked away with literally nothing, government will give us a relief, that government will provide land for farming. Up to now, there is nothing. The condition we were given was that we have to massively campaign for the PF. Today, after they won, no one is talking to us, they are all busy,” Siwale said.
He said children of ex-miners would die of hunger if the government did not move in to help them.
Siwale said only those with serious connections in the PF or relatives in influential positions had been given some land in Kitwe, Kalulushi, Mufulira and Chingola.
“For destitutes, the poor with nobody to talk to like some of us gathered here, it’s a terrible story! We can’t even rush to any media because they are all praising Edgar Lungu day in, day out. We never knew we are dealing with crooks,” complained Siwale.
And Jona Fumbelo said the group was demanding an audience with President Lungu over the failed promises.
“We were told the only way out is to support the PF. Now they ruined our lives and later duped us with fake promises, ” Fumbelo said.
He said President Lungu’s failure to honour his promises on land and debt relief was a great disappointment.
“Every time they are busy on television telling the nation that they have given us the land; they are busy telling the nation that they are giving us all the necessary support. That’s not the truth! Yes, they have given a small number of miners in Kitwe some pieces of land and it was well publicised. Now what about the ex-miners in Kalulushi, Mufulira, Chingola and Chililabimbwe? We are suffering because this government has failed us,” said Fumbelo who added that the PF had failed to protect their jobs and to fulfil their highly publicised promises.