Kantanshi independent member of parliament Anthony Mumba says the anti-Chinese campaign being propagated by people on the Copperbelt must stop because it might be destructive to the process of choosing a stable investor for Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
And Mumba says there is nothing wrong with entrusting KCM operations with a Chinese investor as China is one of the countries with money readily available and it’s also the second largest economy in the world after the United States of America.
In an interview, Wednesday, Mumba said it would be wrong to choose an investor based on the global regions where they were coming from.
“We have nine companies so far that have expressed interest in taking over the mine and the due process will be starting soon. In fact, it was supposed to start yesterday but we are just putting a few issues in place. The whole idea is to have a transparent process and get the best investor for the benefit of our economy and the people of the Copperbelt. We also want to re-model the way business is done where only foreigners are seen to be doing business whilst the Zambians are just ordinary miners. So we need to remodel that and also try to take the same ideology into Mopani which seemingly has been taken over by South African businesses, meaning that all we are doing is picking the left overs. So there is need for that change. The President is encouraging Zambians who are able to form a consortium if they are able to convince the local banks or banks abroad to come on board. But up to now, we only have international investors,” Mumba said.
“But also, in this whole process, there is this campaign which is simmering on the Copperbelt against Chinese investors and I think that it’s important that we start to discredit such kind of talk. I think in my opinion, Chinese investors are the ones that have the money right now and secondly, what has caused most of our transactions with Chinese companies not to be seen to be benefiting the people is because you go on the table without an idea of what you have come to do there. So on one hand someone has the money, one the hand you want a certain product on a certain activity to be conducted but you have no idea of how it should be conducted. So that’s what we’ll try and eliminate form this exercise. We are going there with a clear idea of ensuring that the mine starts running viably so that it is able to contribute positively to our economy through payment of taxes and ensuring that jobs are secure.”
Mumba said Zambia would not risk limiting its investment profile simply because of a perception that certain people had against China.
“When you are looking for foreign direct investment, you do not start to say ‘I am not going to deal with investors coming from Asia’ or coming from South Africa or coming from America, you are going out there to say ‘look, we’ve got this product and we are trying to have a win-win situation and this is how we intend to do it by factoring in all the issues that benefit us as a country’, that is what should be the bottom line. Coming from the Copperbelt myself, I wouldn’t want to be part of this thing saying that ‘we will not support Chinese investment’, I think that;s a very narrow way of looking at the investment. If you check right now the billions of dollars that the Chinese have pumped in the Zambian economy, and after all, China is the second largest economy after the United States of America. So you cannot limit your investment profile simply because of a perception that you have against a particular country,” said Mumba.
“So for me, as we to the negotiating table, I will not look at China or Turkey or Australia or the United States of America or Chile through a perception, no! We re going there with a model that should benefit our economy and our Zambian people and ensure that jobs are secured, contractors and suppliers are paid on time… so that people’s lives start to change in a positive manner. I think that for me is the bottom line. This campaign that is simmering on the Copperbelt which might actually be destructive in terms of us looking at the stability of an investor should be stopped because we should not be seen to be choosing investors due to the global regions where they are coming from, that is wrong. For me I would rather let everybody be put on a level playing field and let the best investor carry the day.”