By Victor Kalesha Kalesha ( in the photo with Edgar Lungu)
– Gounasse has been granted Zambian citizenship
As the Emerald and Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) we are deeply concerned at what is happening at our member company Gemcanton Investment Holdings.
As an Association who are a spokesperson and a mouth piece for any of our members and government and other stakeholders, we would wish to make our balanced and honest correction over the social media reports that are circulating on what is happening at Gemcanton Investment Holdings Ltd. As an association, we have been involved in the emerald mining business for over 32 years and we know every good and bad investor and everything that goes on in the emerald restricted area. As an independent association that stand on behalf of our members and as well as liaising with government in the issues that relate to the emerald industry in the emerald restricted area, We have an intricate understanding of how emerald mining works. So following what has been going on at Gemcanton Investments, I want to first and foremost wish to put on record that Frango Finance Ltd is not the new owner of Gemcanton Investments Ltd but they were just invited as partners on a 50-50 percent basis by Mr Abdoulaye Ndiaye referred to as Mr Gounasse from August 2015. Mr Abdoulaye Ndiaye has been running the company since 1997 as a major shareholder from its infancy and grew it to the level where it even Frango Finance (the so called new investor) so the so called new investor who people are referring to as the new mine owner, is not the mine owner. He was attracted to the investment grown by Mr Abdoulaye Ndiaye which was called Grizzly mining and he was allowed to buy 50% shares. And Mr Ndiaye having grown the company, there was need to bring in more technical skills like gemmologists which the new partners brought in, and not necessarily that he needed financial aspects into the company. Records indicate that besides Mr Ndiaye being born West African, this is what people should get clearly about Mr Ndiaye, he has stayed in Zambia for over 40 years as a business man and he has since acquired the Zambian citizenship making him a local investor and not a foreign investor. And I think we need to put records straight, for people that are misplacing facts, Mr Ndiaiye has a heart for the Zambian people hence his vast investment in Zambia. One truth that people need to know is, in as far as the association is concerned and the records we have, accurate records which can be checked from anywhere even from Gemcanton itself, the records indicate that Gemcanton has 691 employees of which 30 are expatriates and 610 are Zambians, 51 are West Africans. We therefore want to advise Zambian watchdog and there source of information to verify facts before even publishing them, who are you impressing? Bu as a concerned Zambian Citizen what I am giving here are facts that can be verified from any government agency that and confirm that this is what is prevailing at the mine and on the ground. There are truthfully 691 employees, 51 West Africans and the ones that are called West Africans were born from Zambian women married to West African men in Zambia. Mr Ndiaye picked them up as a way of helping them instead of just languishing and employed them at the mine. These people even as they are called West Africans are Zambian born. We therefore want to advise Zambian watchdog to at least get some sense of humour and publish things that are accurate. Anyone is free to check the facts that am giving out here from any government institution on what labour forces are at Gemcanton. The issue of Zambianisation does not even arise, because;
1. There has never been 100 West Africans employed at Gemcanton Investments looking at the above stated true statistics.
2. Emerald mining security is of paramount importance and measures are put in place to secure the products and hence we have seen that those that are employed referred to as west Africans are just Zambians and a few west Africans that have been brought in compliance with the investment requirement of bringing in people to safeguard the investment from the investor either local or foreign.
As can be seen the figures of 51 west African, which if we go by the true record it’s only 35 west Africans that have been employed in the company from the time before the partnership came into existence and yet within a period of 22 months Frango has brought 30 expatriates as opposed to just the 35 that they are referring to as 100 when they are only 35 west Africans.
It’s unfortunate that our colleagues at MUZ who are experts in labour issues who are supposed to take care of workers interests have no facts at hand in regard to the staffing levels at Gemcanton compared to their counter parts at NUMAW. We contacted NUMAW and they have facts at hand in regard to staffing levels and that’s the way it’s supposed to be because as a union you are suppo