KONKOLA Copper Mines (in liquidation) has asked the Lusaka High Court to dismiss the summons for directions by Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited regarding the extent of KCM provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu’s powers following the halting of the mining company’s winding-up proceedings and the dispute referred to arbitration.
ZCCM Investment Holdings has equally asked the court not to entertain any further step in the winding-up proceedings which were stayed at the request of Vedanta.
It has argued that Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited should not be allowed any further to make a mockery of the judiciary and its processes.
This is a matter in which ZCCM-IH petitioned the Lusaka High Court on May 21, 2019, seeking an order that KCM should be wound up for engaging in tax evasion and being managed in a manner detrimental to its interest, among other allegations.
On November 20, last year, the Court of Appeal ordered a stay of the winding-up proceedings that ZCCM-IH has instituted against KCM in the High Court and referred the matter to arbitration as requested by Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited.
However, last month Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited asked the Lusaka High Court to give directions regarding the extent of Milingo’s powers in light of the Court of Appeal’s decision to stay the winding-up proceedings involving KCM and refer the dispute to arbitration.
Vedanta also wants the High Court to give directions on whether the provisional liquidator has the power to restructure or reorganize KCM by splitting its operations between two separate entities, and whether the transfer of the mining company’s property without the approval of the court is void pursuant to section 62 of the Corporate Insolvency Act.
It further wants directions on whether the powers granted to Milingo by the High Court extend to the provisional liquidator incorporating subsidiaries of KCM and whether the said provisional liquidator is able to exercise the powers granted by the court over subsidiaries of KCM, among others.
But ZCCM-IH and KCM have now raised some preliminary issues.
ZCCM-IH wants the court to give directions on whether the High Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine summons for directions when winding-up proceedings have been stayed and dispute referred to arbitration by the Court of Appeal.
It also wants the Court’s direction on whether after the winding up proceedings were stayed and dispute referred to arbitration, it is open to Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited to take further steps in the action.
ZCCM-IH has argued in its skeleton arguments in support of motion to raise preliminary issues that as the Court of Appeal stayed the winding up proceedings and referred the matter to arbitration without any reservation, the High Court could not proceed to hear and determine Vedanta’s summons for directions, for want of jurisdiction.
It further submitted that as an appellate court, the decisions of the Court of Appeal were binding on the High Court and that if the High Court were to proceed to hear and determine Vedanta’s summons for directions, such act would not only be in defiance of the Court of Appeal judgement but would also call into question the judicial hierarchy system as established by the Constitution.
ZCCM stated that the winding up proceedings cannot simply be reactivated in the manner sought by Vedanta until the requested arbitration was concluded or by order of the appellate court.
And according to an affidavit in support of notice of motion to raise preliminary issues, Milingo argued that the stay of proceedings before the High Court was still in place, adding that he verily believed it to be true that no further steps may be taken by any party or person in the proceedings to progress the matter any further until the stay was lifted or ceased to exist.
In its skeleton arguments, KCM argued that procedurally, the High Court lacks necessary jurisdiction to entertain or take cognizance of the summons for directions filed by Vedanta and that it therefore ought to be dismissed with costs.
“Following the orders of stay of these proceedings, these proceedings were thereby stayed and whilst the order of stay is in place, no further steps may competently be taken to progress the matter before this honourable court or may any further proceedings be taken in this matter before this honourable court,” KCM argued.