ABSENTEEISM has hit the mining companies on the Copperbelt as a result of the continued shortage of mealie meal as miners are staying away from work on the excuse that they have to look for the staple food currently in short supply in most parts of the country, the Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) has complained.
George Mumba, the MUZ general secretary has disclosed that miners were being granted permission to go search for mealie meal, and that is currently in short supply in most parts of the country.
Mr Mumba said the shortage has become an excuse for the miners to be absent from work because most are being granted permission to go and look for the commodity which has continued to be in short supply.
And Mr Mumba has said the MUZ Milling plant had not been operational because it had run out of maize stocks and was hoping to resume operations after receiving the grain from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA)
Mr Mumba said the shortage of mealie meal was affecting production in the mining sector because the miners were using production hours to go search for the commodity and would be on queues for long hours before they could buy the commodity.
In an interview, Mr Mumba said MUZ was concerned that the mining sector has not been spared by the shortage of mealie meal and was hoping for a long-lasting solution to the problem
He said MUZ had come up with an initiative to invest in a milling plant to sell mealie meal to its members, but unfortunately the milling plant has run out of maize stock and has not been operational.
“We have had some intermittent production, but that has not been enough and because of this, our members have been asking for permission at their work places to go and look for mealie meal. Mining companies have been complaining about these permissions and absenteeism,” Mr Mumba said.
“As a union, we are concerned that this shortage of mealie meal was affecting production in the mining sector because those miners who were getting permission to go and look for mealie meal would have been at their work place contributing to production at their respective work places,’’ Mr Mumba said
And Mr Mumba has said the MUZ Milling plant was currently not operational because it had run out of maize and was hoping to resume operations after receiving some maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA)
Mr Mumba said the milling plant has had no meaningful milling from 1st March because it had challenges of maize supply and production had reduced from 5,000 x 25 kilogrammes bags per day to 1,000 x 25 kilogrammes per day
He said for the past one month and some weeks, no meaningful milling has been taken place at the milling plant, but was hoping that the operations may resume on Wednesday after receiving some maize from FRA.
“We have been informed that some maize has been delivered at Chambishi FRA Depot which was brought by rail from Southern Province. We have lost a lot of business from this shortage of maize. The mealie meal we produce is for our members and the Copperbelt. At full capacity, we produce 5000 x 25kg, but now we have been reduced to 1000 x 25 kg bags of mealie meal,’’ Mr Mumba said