ZRA raids Kagem Mine, SA lie de­tec­tion com­pany

Zambian Business Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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