NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili says the Mopani Copper Mines takeover needs to be reviewed because Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) does not have the capacity to run the asset.
And Kambwili says political alliances are very important and he doesn’t mind being led by another opposition leader because he is not power hungry.
When he featured on Diamond TVs Diamond Live Program, Friday, Kambwili noted that if an equity partner is not found quickly, even the jobs that government is pretending to save will be lost as the mine will go down.
“They are saying they want to save the jobs but I can tell you that if ZCCM takes a long time without finding a strategic partner and reasonable strategic partner to run Mopani, we will lose even the little jobs that we are pretending to come and save because miners will be going without getting paid. The suppliers will not be paid, the mine will not have spares and as a result, Mopani will go down. The economy of Kitwe will go down and the people will suffer more because if we cannot attract a lot of foreign exchange. You and I know that foreign exchange in Zambia is mainly brought into the country through copper mining. Mopani is one of the major producers of copper and if that production from Mopani is taken away from this cycle just know that the rate of the kwacha to the dollar will reach K50 or even K60 to a dollar,” he said.
He added that ZCCM-IH has no capacity to run Mopani which needs about US$150 million to run effectively.
“…at the current moment, ZCCM has no capacity. Listen and hear me very clearly, I am not saying Zambians are not able to run the mines, Zambians can run the mines, they are capable of running the mines, mines can be in the hands of Zambians but the problem is the capacity. It is not long ago when ZCCM failed to raise US$2.5 million to set up a processing plant. Now, if ZCCM can fail to raise US$2.5 million to put up a processing plant, how will they then raise money to run a complex venture like Mopani. To run Mopani Copper Mines, you need in excess of US$150 million per month probably. Now, ZCCM in its current financial state cannot raise this money,” Kambwili said.
“To be honest with you, I have a lot of reservations over this Mopani deal. To me, that needs to be revisited, seriously revisited. If Glencore wants to exit the mine, let them exit without strings. What do I mean by saying without strings, you cannot hold the people of Zambia to ransom by saying look, yes we are exiting but you sell us 80 percent of the copper that you are going to produce at such a price in order for us to recover our cost of investment. You see, mining is such a venture which has good days and bad days and if you tie yourself to certain conditions, it becomes very difficult for you to survive in an event of a bad rainy day…now, imagine that the price of coper drops down, because they are tied to this agreement Glencoe will say as far as we are concerned, the price that we are supposed to pay is this much, this issue of reduced copper price is your own business, we have got an agreement.”
On Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Kambwili said it is unacceptable for workers to be paid their terminal benefits in instalments and urged the National Mine workers Union of Zambia to negotiate for the benefit of the workers and not for personal gain.
He further urged provisional Liquidator Milingo Lungu to stop segregating and terminating employment of people who belong to the opposition.
“To my brother Milingo Lungu, please stop the segregation that you started by firing Chipoka Mulenga, by terminating Judith Kabemba, about seven, eight people who belong to the opposition and many of those who are aspiring for councillor or MP have been terminated,” Kambwili said.
Meanwhile, Kambwili noted that the problem with opposition leaders is that everyone wants to be President.
“Alliances in political parties are very important but the problem that we have, particularly in Africa and in Zambia is that everybody wants to be president but there can only be one president at every given time. This idea of the opposition working in isolation will only advantage those in the ruling party or those in government because you are splitting the vote. If the politicians in Zambia, particularly those in the opposition can learn from what happened in Malawi, I can tell you that those in government, the ruling parties will change their ways of doing things because they will realise that they have to do the right thing to win the confidence of the people and the support of the people so that come election time, they have something to show the people that this is why they must remain in power. But in Africa today and in Zambia in particular, ruling parties don’t mind, they even boast that after all the opposition is fragmented,” he said.
“Alliances are extremely important but what we need to remove is selfishness of leaders who wants to go in the alliance. What makes alliances break is that when it comes to choosing who should lead everybody wants to lead. But for some of us, we have said look, if you want to lead, you should be prepared to be led and as it stands right now, we have got an alliance with the UPND, an alliance with ADD, an alliance with RPP and the issue of who leads this alliance has not been an issue to us, it’s something that can be discussed and something that can be resolved because for some of us, we are not power hungry.”
Meanwhile, Kambwili wondered why elections are being targeted in terms of prohibiting gatherings when people are allowed to gather in markets.
“So you allow people to trade freely in the markets, you allow people to go on with their business and usually the people that you find in the markets are more than the people that find sometimes attending rallies. First start with controlling what is happening at the moment, what is happening in the markets, what is happening at shopping malls, what is happening in churches and what is happening everywhere. You cannot isolate only elections and say there will be no public meetings during elections when you can allow people to meet freely in these other human endeavour activities. Then there must be a hidden agenda that you are trying to hide, what are you scared of to allow people to freely meet when you can allow them to meet in the markets?” wondered Kambwili.