Mopani Bans Local Languages At its Mines

Zambian miners walk out of a lift at Konkola Copper mine in Chililabombwe, Zambia.
Zambian miners walk out of a lift at Konkola Copper mine in Chililabombwe, Zambia.
MOPANI Copper Mines has ordered all employees to express themselves in fluent English within the company premises.

According to an internal memo to all employees dated October 13, 2014 and signed by chief executive officer, Danny Callow, the directive is with immediate effect.

“It is not good etiquette to converse in a language that others in a group cannot understand and I am asking everyone to immediately restrain from talking in their mother tongue when communicating (e-mail, meetings, walking in corridor, or in fact any time during working hours). If an employee or contractor is not fluent and able to converse in English, then they should not be working at Mopani. This notice must come into force with immediate effect,” read the notice.

Callow explained that Mopani was made up of a large multicultural group of employees.
“We can all learn from each other and that is what makes us a powerful team. For this reason the language of communication as per our company policy is English. There appears to be more occurrences of groups of employees communicating with each other and in meetings in their home language which is not always English. This contravenes company policy and must stop immediately,” he stated.

But the move has riled some workers who say it is an infringement on their right to communicate freely in the language they were familiar with.

When contacted to clarify whether the memo also covers such workers as cleaners and security guards, Mopani public relations manager, Caphas Sinyangwe, demanded a press query to which he did not respond by press time.