Emeralds Investors differ over Zambianisation
Frango – a new investor in Gemcanton mining limited in Zambia Copperbelt has demanded that more than 100 Senegalese employed at the mine should be sent back and instead employ Zambians as part of the new company policy.
The new investor, who bought 50 percent shares in Gemcanton mining, previously Grizzly Mining which belonged to Senegalese National Abdoulaye Ndiaye or “Gounasse” demanded that most jobs should be given to locals in Lufwanyama area instead of Senegalese.
The proposed new policy shift has prompted sharp differences with Gounasse threatening the Jewish investors with arrest and deportation claiming he was politically connected and untouchable in Zambia.
“Imagine that we have over 100 Senegalese who have been employed as security guards, most of them come from the villages in Senegal,” said one of the mine workers who sought anonymity.
He said Gounasse has refused to employ Zambians saying they were thieves and cannot be trusted with security of the emeralds hence his decision to bring mostly relatives from Senegalese and Mauritania.
The Mine Workers Union (MUZ) have also raised this matter with management of Gemcanton and demanded that security guard jobs be given to Zambians as opposed to foreigners.
“The new investor is making changes in the mine. We now have new housing, new dining area, new toilets and improved conditions of service unlike before where we were kept like pigs,” the worker said.
“Let government officials come and see the difference which these people have made to the mine. The old structures are there and compare with the new ones, you will be shocked.”
The new investors have also put up a clinic and water reticulation for miners and introduced properly organized payslips and deductions for the workers which was never done when the mine operated as Grizzly Mining.
“For the first time the company is producing financial reports and selling emeralds through auctions as opposed to private deals. ZRA will now be able to get money through taxes as the books are there,” a MUZ official said.
But the new changes have prompted a sharp fight among shareholders with the previously owners demanding that Frango CEO, Eli Neffussy, a man behind the changes, should be sent back to Israel.
“We like these whites. They are doing a professional job and live with us at the mine. The other CEO from Senegal Mr. Abdoul Ba live in town but makes decisions without seeing what’s on the ground,” another worker said.
“They have come up with fake stories that the whites killed Zambians. That’s a lie,” the worker started, adding that Senegalese gets more money than Zambians at the mine.
“The biggest offense they have committed is to stop the selling of emeralds on the streets in Kitwe but rather through well organized auctions,” the workers said.
Frango bought 50 percent shares in the mine, according to a Bloomberg report. The other shares remain with Mr. Gounasse who is believed to be unhappy with the changes that the Jewish investor has introduced, including financial reporting.