By Vincent Matandiko
Over 700 former Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) workers that retired in 2019 have petitioned President Edgar Lungu to intervene and ensure they are paid their pension contributions in full to alleviate their suffering.
The ex-miners, who matched from Chililabombwe’s Kamenza Secondary School to the District Commissioner’s office, presented the petition for onward submission to the President through the Copperbelt Provincial administration.
In a petition presented by KCM ex-miners’ Chairperson Godwin Muyambo, the ex-miners contend that they were forced to join Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Fund in 2000 when the mine was owned by Anglo American and all retirees were being paid 100 percent of their packages with interest.
The ex-miners intimated that the pension fund administrators, Benefits Consulting Services, however, informed the over 700 ex-miners that retired in 2019 that they would only get 50 percent of their pension.
They further said that they were told that the other 50 percent would be transferred to Sanlam Insurance Zambia Limited to purchase annuities and that the money would be paid to the ex-miners in monthly installments over a five to 10 year period.
The ex-miners argue that the decision to transfer their pension contributions to Sanlam Insurance Zambia Limited is illegal because there is no law that compels pensioners to buy annuities after retirement and they are demanding to be paid in full as has been the case since the year 2000.
“The management of the KCM Pension Scheme has become a convoluted affair with four companies, Africa Life Financial Services, Benefits Consulting Services Limited, Sanlam Insurance and the Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Fund being involved in the exploitation of innocent miners,” reads the petition.
The ex-miners are, among many issues, demanding an immediate review of the law to enable them receive 100 percent contributions as the current law favours the fund managers and administrators as the keep holding on to the 50 percent after miners retire.
They also called for Presidential intervention to compel the fund managers to pay their 100 percent contribution immediately in view of the precedence set over the past 19 years as well as institute investigations to establish properties that have been bought or built under the KCM pension scheme fund.
They ex- miners are also calling for the reviewing of laws and performance of all private pension schemes to ensure that investments in fixed assets such as houses, office complexes and shopping malls benefit the members unlike boosting the fund manager’s pockets.
They are also asking for a review of the existing laws so that the serving miners can transfer their pension contributions to the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) besides the institution of an investigation into the conduct of the KCM pension scheme board of trustees and the trade unions.
“Mr President, it is our greatest hope that you hear our cries. We have been made destitute through the selfishness of unscrupulous individuals and the confusion over the retirement age. We want to contribute to national development through farming and educating our children,” the statement read in part.
And Chililabombwe District Commissioner Roy Ngosa assured the ex-miners that he would ensure that the petition is delivered by presenting it to Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Bright Nundwe who would in turn present it to Provincial Minister Japhen Mwakalombe for onward transmission to the President.
The District Commissioner hailed the ex-miners for the peaceful manner in which they presented their petition/ZANIS.