Opposition Golden Party of Zambia (GPZ) President Jackson Silavwe has opposed the imminent return of Indian investor Vedanta Mineral Resources to run Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
Mr. Silavwe said only corrupt, inept, puppets of foreign business interests and self serving individuals and Government can talk about returning Vedanta back to KCM.
The Government through ZCCM IH is currently settling the case of disputed KCM ownership emanating from liquidation outside court.
Mine unions last week urged the Government to bring back controversial Vedanta to run the dormant KCM if it can’t find an alternative investor.
Heads of the Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ), United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) and National Union of Miner’s and Allied Workers (NUMAW) held a joint media briefing at Katilungu House in Kitwe to advocate the return of Vedanta to run KCM.
But Mr. Silavwe said Vedanta cannot be relied on to run KCM because it was a crooked investor.
He said Vedanta was making $500 million per year in profits by the owners’ admission for more than 7 years but siphoned it out of the country whilst declaring losses to the Government
Mr. Silavwe said Vedanta has demonstrated lack of care and respect for the people of Zambia.
“Vedanta was making $500 million per year in profits by the owners admission for more than 7 years, siphoned it out of the country whilst declaring Zero to the Government. Invests “$1million” in PR stunts and makeshift projects plus a bunch of promises and some Zambian’s start singing praises to them. If you think such a company cares about your Country, you are greatly mistaken and very naive. I accept to be a villain and be insulted by Vedanta. Whether President HH and his Government returns Vedanta or not I stand by our position. If this is the mentality we have as a people, we are not fit to have such natural resources. What a mindset,” Mr. Silavwe said.
The Golden Party of Zambia leader charged that returning Vedanta back to KCM will be a national disgrace.
Mr. Silavwe said Vedanta failed to run KCM for the benefit of the Zambian people.
“We would like to differ with the Minister of Mines Honourable Paul Kabuswe and the 3 three mining unions, MUZ, NUMAW and UMUZ on returning Vedanta back to KCM. Vedanta’s return will be a serious indictment on our collective National thinking or the lack of it.KCM under Vedanta only benefited the owner Mr. Agarwal and his business associates. No wonder he boasted on video that KCM had been giving him $500 million every year in profit, plus an extra $1 billion since 2003 and yet KCM was declaring losses to the Zambian government,” Mr. Silavwe said.
He said GPZ was aware that President Hakainde Hichilema and his UPND regime lacked the will to allow Zambians to run local mining firms.
“We know President Hichilema and his administration lack any impetus to return Zambian ownership in any mine and run it profitably, the least they can do is look for a “new investor” that will come and loot our resources again in the name of providing jobs to locals and paying contractors. Only corrupt, inept, puppets of foreign business interests and self serving individuals and Government can talk about returning Vedanta back to KCM. By all accounts, Vedanta failed to run KCM for the benefit of the Zambian people. No matter the grand public relations (PR) stunts and secret exchange of dollars to politically exposed people, returning Mr. Agarwal and his Vedanta will be a huge disgrace to our Nation period,” Mr. Silavwe concluded.
The UPND Government has been pledging to unlock the mining sector that is currently faced with challenges of unresolved mine ownership, lack of capital injection and closure of certain operations.