MINES and Minerals Development Minister Richard Musukwa says 49 per cent of the smelter at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has been sold to recapitalise operations at the mine.

And Musukwa says the UPND should start restructuring and planning for the 2026 general election because they have already lost this year’s election.

In an interview, Musukwa disclosed that 49 per cent of the KCM Smelter had been sold, while 51 per cent was still in the hands of KCM and ZCCM-IH.

“The smelter, what has been sold is shares in the smelter at 51 per cent and 49. ZCCM-IH and KCM still remain with shares in the smelter at 51 per cent. What has been sold is 49 per cent. The 49 per cent has been sold to ensure that we get resources to recapitalise the operations and give it a fresh injection. The challenges that we liquidated at KCM was as a result of indebtedness and failure to recaptilise. This is what we have done to bring in resources to recapitalise and also do with various issues of debt for contractors and suppliers. Because we are restructuring the company in order to start on a new plate, we have to deal with the issues of terminal benefits for the workers. We are paying in phases because as and when we are paid from this process we’ll also pay the workers. There is no money that is somewhere, which we can just go and lift and pay, no! That’s the process,” Musukwa said.

Musukwa said the actions being undertaken by KCM were meant to revive the fortunes of the mine.

“The Zambian people at KCM are being paid because of the good leadership of the PF and His Excellency, the President, because we have prioritised the workers, we have prioritised our people. Take it from me, the actions at KCM are meant to revive the fortunes of KCM and build confidence in our people and nothing political. We have no politics to do in the mining sector because this is a business that should survive or technical experts, investments and sustainability that is what we are doing. It is surprising that people, who have gone to bed with Vedanta and mining houses because they were benefiting, these are the people who are crying the loudest! What we have just done is to remove this group of people, who were benefiting and that is why they cry the loudest,” he said.

And Musukwa, who is also Chililabombwe PF member of parliament, said it was unfortunate that UPND president Hakainde Hichilema had failed to appreciate government’s efforts in trying to revive KCM.

The UPND leader had warned that KCM Provisional Liquidator Milingo Lungu’s decision to split the troubled mining company would exacerbate its challenges.

“Hichilema’s statement must not be taken seriously, it must be ignored with the concept it deserves! You saw how Hakinde Hichilema, an accomplished economist, struggled with his press conference last week, because he knew what he was saying was not in sync with basic business tenets, which he knows too well. Did he pay the people in Luanshya when he liquidated it? I am surprised that Hakainde Hichilema, who is a renowned economist, he fails to appreciate the interpretations that government is making in KCM, but for political expediency, he would like to comment like that? Our office as government remains open for anyone, including Hakainde Hichilema, to bring his ideas, don’t bring them to the press conference or social media. Bring your ideas, we will look at them, we will examine them and see if they make sense for Zambia and the mining industry, we are open. We are surprised that people want to continue misleading Zambia with impunity,” Musukwa said.

Meanwhile, Musukwa said that the UPND should start restructuring and planning for the 2026 general election because they had already lost this year’s polls slated for August 12.

“As national mobilisation chairman, we call for UPND to concede defeat ahead of the 2021 elections instead of trying to traumatise about Uganda! They should just concede defeat, restructure, organise themselves and start planning for 2026 because this one, they are gone! UPND are full of speculation and they operate from social media, they operate from hallucinations! Clearly, I tell you that PF and Edgar Lungu are winning the 2021 election with a landslide victory. We have the numbers, UPND has no numbers. What they have are numbers on social media where one person has 20 accounts, voting is one person per vote. They have a platform where they have 500 computers and all of them are responding to all the rubbish and insulting our people on social media. That is not winning elections, the language and the type of acrimony associated with all those things is typical of UPND leadership; arrogant, hate, you name all sort of negative vibes. Zambian elections are not won at the platform,” said Musukwa.

“PF’s resolve is to appeal to our common people that we have started a development trajectory across the country. What we have done in Lusaka in terms of the road infrastructure, what we have done in Chingola, we are doing that in Chililabombwe; we are doing that in Mufulira; we are doing that in Luanshya. We could not do these things at a go. It is a structured programme of development. That is why we are winning the 2021 election. Elections are not about taking someone to State House, State House is not a place for business transactions like the RAMCOM sale, no! This is about giving Zambians an opportunity to develop. That is what we are doing.”