ZRA raids Kagem Mine, SA lie detection company
GEMFIELDS - OWNED Kagem Mine, said to be the largest gemstone miner in the world, and controversial South Africa-based Limpopo Polygraphs were on Friday August 16 raided by the Zambia Revenue Authority - ZRA.
Gemfields has since informed its stockholders via a message posted on its website that the ZRA served two search warrants during an unannounced visit to Kagem Mining Limited.
The search warrants were issued in respect of Kagem Mining Limited and Limpopo Polygraphs, a South African lie detection company conducting periodic polygraph testing at Kagem, and whose representatives were on site at Kagem.
The search warrants authorized ZRA to take wide-ranging documents and files including those allegedly “used by Kagem Mine Ltd and Limpopo Polygraphs to evade the payment of Value Added Tax, income tax, with-holding tax and other taxes”.
However, the timing of the raid which coincided with the presence of Limpopo Polygraphs representatives may brew bigger problems for the gemstone miner that could spill well beyond the initial taxation concerns. Kagem Mine has been subject to negative publicity due to employee whistle blowing on some of its labor and employee treatment processes by its management.
Over and above media reports of Kagem Mine subjecting employees to invasive body searches when exiting the mine, to the concern of subjecting all employees to polygraph tests, which is generally considered demeaning in Zambian labor practices and cultural norms, it would not be farfetched to project that there is more to the raid than meets the eye.
One of the matters that Kagem may be facing is migration of labor practices that work elsewhere to a country like Zambia which has well known and established labor practices. Any worker “mistreatment” in Zambia is bound to more scrutiny due to the high sensitivity in which labor matters are taken. For instance, Limpopo Polygraphs lie detection tests and procedures have been administered by companies mostly from South Africa, where these tests seem to be acceptable.
According to information obtained from Limpopo Polygraphs website, the controversial lie detection tests are conducted by most of the companies which have ventured into the Zambian market. Some of the companies listed as clients of Limpopo Polygraph and are likely to be conducting the controversial tests in their Zambian operations include G4S, Spar, Pick n Pay, KFC, Dulux, HI FI Corp, Cashbuild and Mr. Price.
Others are the Edcon Group who have opened operations for Edgars, Jet and Legit at various shopping malls across the country
The Ministry of Labor is yet to issue a comprehensive statement on the legality of administering such tests in Zambia.
The general expectation is that all companies operating in Zambia must align their human resource policies to the Zambian labor laws.
Polygraph tests and lie detection procedures border on invasion of privacy and incisive investigations are only mandated to legally commissioned government officers and investigative wings such as the Zambia police, as a control to arbitrary use and safeguarding the dignity of the general populous.
In most part of the world including South Africa were these debatable labor practices are common, polygraph and lie detection tests are generally considered controversial due to privacy concerns and their admission to employees are rather based on lacunas in the law. Cultural and national values considerations are usually ignored.
A miner at Kagem mine in Lufwanyama in Zambia. Kagem is said to be the largest emerald miner in the world.