By Sunday Chilufya Chanda

For many developing nations of the world, an endowment of widely coveted natural resources is as much a blessing as it is a curse.

Although the extraction of these resources provides a means for public revenue, job creation and other socioeconomic benefits, the gap between potential and reality is, more often than not, widened by mismanagement, corruption and other preventable factors. At least this much is true in my own Zambia, where for decades, precious little has accrued to the people.

Of course, as fate would have it, this experience is not universal.

While generations of Zambians have earned pittance from the extraction of their nation’s natural resources, outsiders have made off with vast fortunes. By some estimates, multinational mining corporations have defrauded the country of nearly $3 billion in copper revenues since the sector was privatized in 2001. In 2011 these same firms only paid 2.4 percent of the $10 billion of their copper export revenues in tax. To put things in perspective, this meant that Zambians employed in the mining industry have historically paid a higher tax than their multinational employers.

Though to us, and countless other citizens of the developing world, these inequitable circumstances are nothing new. Save for the rare exception, these capitalist merchants of the mines employ the same entitled, abusive and unlawful tactics of past imperialist powers. It’s fitting then, that some appear to think themselves emperors in their own right.

Since Vedanta Resources acquired a majority stake in Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in the early 2000s, Mr. Anil Agarwal, Vedanta’s Chairman, has fancied himself Zambia’s most valuable partner. And, to some extent, this is true. In the fifteen odd years since his company’s acquisition, Konkola Copper Mines has grown to become the single largest mining company in Zambia, and in turn the country’s largest private sector employer. Moreover the company’s direct and indirect contributions to Zambia’s economic and infrastructural development have been, and continue to be, tremendous. To be sure, Zambia would not be the copper producer it is today without the likes of KCM.

But since the downturn in global copper prices in 2016, what was arguably once a valuable partnership has grown increasingly toxic. In these last few years KCM has suffered from dreadful mismanagement and underperformance, and found itself entangled in a series of labor and environmental scandals, all the while shirking its fiscal obligations to the government.

What’s more, Vedanta has repeatedly failed to cooperate with tax regulations, including the new mining tax regime. And the company habitually falls short of its promises to revitalize investment and management of KCM, opting instead for coercion, and blackmail and fraud to bend Zambia, its generous host, to its will.

Though this is to be expected from a company owned by the likes of Mr. Agarwal who, lest we forget, is known to boast of his African exploits to his peers, behavior truly befitting of a king. Despite this, the Vedanta chair had the audacity to publicly ‘warn’ Zambia against the steps it taking to divorce its abusive partner, Vedanta.

Earlier this month ZCCM-IH, the state’s copper investment holdings company and minority stakeholder in KCM, filed a provisional liquidation petition with the Lusaka High Court. In effect the move is designed to oust Mr. Agarwal’s incompetent and indifferent Vedanta Resources at the perennial urging of multiple mine-workers unions, residents of the Copperbelt region and yes, even prominent opposition politicians.

Nevertheless, Mr. Agarwal claims to know the wants and needs of the thousands of Zambians this measure is meant to address. His claim that Vedanta’s ousting will “only hurt the nation’s hard-earned democracy and investor-friendly status,” is demonstrably false, if not outright threatening. The truth is that the ongoing ouster is one small part of the government’s broader effort to stand up against the greatest existential threats to Zambian democracy and economic stability – exploitative multinational corporations.

This process is not, as Mr. Agarwal and other Vedanta executives would suggest, a precursor to nationalization of the mining sector. Rather, it’s an attempt to revitalize KCM, one of the greatest assets at Zambia’s disposal. To be clear, KCM’s assets will not be seized, partitioned and sold to the highest bidder. Instead, KCM will remain in operation under the government’s supervision as new investors are identified and engaged in a civil and cooperative manner.

Those who criticize the undertaking, like Mr. Agarwal, offer only contrived, self-interested evidence, which pales in comparison to the legitimate grievances held by government and its constituents.

Zambians are right to believe they are due more than the scraps brushed to them by Vedanta and other relentless abusers. Indeed copper is one of our most valuable non-renewable resources, and we mustn’t allow disingenuous foreign interests to delay or obstruct our taking advantage of its potential. Securing a prosperous future for KCM and the rest of Zambia is contingent on our finding partners that share our ambition, as Vedanta once did. If we fail to do so, and stay the course of previous administrations, we will be protracting our own abuse. Should this happen, we will have only ourselves to blame.

The Author is Patriotic Front Media Director

[Read 2,381 times, 1 reads today]
Loading...

19 COMMENTS

  1. This man has no backbone and all he does is write anything that pleases his master.

    If you think that is a difficult job.

    You need your head thoroughly examined

    Thanks

    BB2014,2016

    26

    2
    • The statement ; “His claim that Vedanta’s ousting will “only hurt the nation’s hard-earned democracy and investor-friendly status,” is demonstrably false”, has a lot of hidden meaning on what Argwal and The PF know.

      I said in the previous comments regarding this, that KCM owner in bullish because of the bribes Lungu made him pay to finance PF elections and other PF activities. This guy is not stupid. He agreed to fund Lungu and PF ‘s ventures in return for tax deductible discounts That’s why KCM has not paid any tax at all. This statement was echoed by Kabala who was insider in PF not long ago.

      Now the PF is broke and it’s request to ask Argwal to borrow millions on its behalf has failed, PF wants to grab the mine and auction it to the highest bidder to boost their coffers…

      7

      3
    • I don’t support both the pompous Argwal and the stupid Lungu led PF at all. And what ever PF is doing to him is well deserved because both are corrupt entities. Remember there is no honour amongst thieves.
      ,

      LUNGU AND ARGWAL MUST BE OUST BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE. THEY BOTH HAVE STOLEN HUGE AMOUNTS FROM THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE.

      17

      1
    • KCM is one entity cited in the FIC report for depositing huge amounts of money in some PF PEPs’ accounts who then deposited it in Lungu s account . Then Lungu with the help of lawyers shipped that money abroad.

      Please publish this FIC copies so that when some us ascend to power some day can follow up this trail of stolen funds.

      Can some one any one put it here online please..

      85

      1
    • Chanda has just spilled the beans on the dealins between PF and KCM.
      BOTH LUNGU LED PF AND KCM ARE CORRUPT.

      25

      2
    • Ichinkula again.
      People are discussing FIC reports and slaughtered cows, but chena Chi Sunday is discussing something uncoordinated.

      7

      1
    • Sunday you are no different from those stealing mineral wealth by stealing money in government. Your own brother stole from the poor at Zampost so please sh.ut.up.

      5

      0
    • Same rhetoric by the moron Sunday Fooking Chanda picking on mines who can not defend themselves …meanwhile they themselves are stealing from taxpayers he is even too embarrassed to discuss.

      2

      0
    • You’ve stolen our taxes, loans, and the Zambians futures.

      And you ask us to vote for you again.

      4

      0
  2. Does anyone remember the Windfall Tax?

    “FINANCE minister Alexander Chikwanda has described as “lunatics” those advocating for the reintroduction of the 25 per cent windfall tax on base metals. And Chikwanda says people are becoming increasingly vocal because they haven’t seen any meaningful change since the PF ascended to power.”

    *******

    5

    0
  3. Does anyone remember the Windfall Tax, and both the (out of government) support and opposition to it and the arguments?

    “FINANCE minister Alexander Chikwanda has described as “lunatics” those advocating for the reintroduction of the 25 per cent windfall tax on base metals. And Chikwanda says people are becoming increasingly vocal because they haven’t seen any meaningful change since the PF ascended to power.”

    Google: chikwanda lunatics windfall tax maravi

    1

    0
  4. You are right on the money on this one… meanwhile $6.1 billion kaili? & we are told that is only a sample of the abuse you lunatics!

    5

    1
  5. WHAT ABOUT ALL THE INVESTMENTS BY VENDATA ? WHAT ABOUT ALL THE TAXES PAID ? WHAT ABOUT THE JOBS THEY’VE CREATED ——————— MR CHANDA THE PF WANT TO GIVE THIS TO THE CHINESE AS PART OF PAYMENT FOR LOANS WE HAVE FROM THEM ——-DO YOU THINK THE CHINESE ARE GOING TO DO HALF OF WHAT VENDATA HAS DONE ??? WE WILL SEE WHAT THE WORKERS SAY AFTER THEY TAKE OVER. THEY WON’T BE PAYING ANY TAXES BECAUSE WE OWE THEM MILLIONS BECAUSE OF PF BORROWING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    14

    0
  6. Thought these tu ma articles will stop once you left but no…. just come back and get your dull boss and go with him in oblivion…. maybe we will have a rest from dander heads and their shallow thinking

    5

    1
  7. This lunatic thinks everyone is dumb, gullible and stupid. Your friend at state house had the same attitude. Where is he now?? He is rip and open for prosecution. Harry has been saying PF is corrupt and you have been calling him names. Now he has dropped a bombshell and people who should answer have gone underground. You and your friend Antonio can not respond to that. Let Lungu mfwiti mfwiti come out and answer.

    6

    0
  8. Ba Chanda you’re right but PF ministers used KCM to fund the PF.How do u expect the company to corrupt?And u know very well that Indians love corruptions.You’re just killing this great nation bcoz you love money than the future of your children.Send people to school so that they can take these mines.Zambians can manage these institution as long as corruption is cabbed. It’s very difficult for citizens to be innovative and creative if corruption is thriving in a nation.Why should i work hard when a cadre can make millions of dollars within 2 months through gratifications.It’s quiet discouraging.These indians are exploiting Zambians becuase they know that PF govt is corrupt.Just bribe ministers and presidential aids and everything ok. Poverty is a serious problems in this country.

    5

    0
  9. A good sniper does not stand up after shooting, especially when the gun is still smoking. what do i mean? After the unceremonious departure of the other Chanda, i was expecting this Chanda to keep quite for some time.

    5

    0
  10. Sincerely speaking, let Agarwal go! And let him go now. We need a better deal and he should not be taking us for granted. If only you could know the utter disrespect and contempt he has shown towards Zambians in general, you would agree that his behaviour is disgusting. Let us be realistic. Condemning the President and whosoever speaks out in support of ECL on this matter just because they are PF is not being fair to ourselves.

    0

    0

Comments are closed.