Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Christopher Yaluma has reiterated that Zambia is a safe and secure investment destination as evidenced by the country’s stable political climate.

And newly-appointed High Court Judge Abha Patel has advised potential Indian investors to be aware that there is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) available in Zambia as a means of resolving contractual disputes.

Speaking during the 2019 India-Zambia Business Forum in Lusaka, Thursday evening, Yaluma urged potential Indian investors to choose Zambia as their preferred investment destination.

He told delegates gathered during this year’s indaba at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel that Indian investment would be safe because the country’s political climate remained stable.

“I wish to use this platform to assure the Indian business community and would-be investors in Zambia that the Patriotic Front government will ensure that investments are safe. I think that is true; who would dispute that? I don’t think you have heard that we have changed governments through some brutal…(means); it has been straightforward, we just go to the polls, like it happened in Kafue (District); that’s what we do,” Yaluma said.

“…You throw in, and whoever you don’t want, you kick the government you don’t want. And we have done it seven times; changing governments without any civil war, misunderstandings, coup d’états and stuff like that. So, we are very stable and peaceful, politically. So, your money will be very, very safe here!”

He noted that despite Zambia and India having enjoyed long, historical and cultural links since Independence, trade volumes between the two countries remained low and mainly in favour of the latter.

“Trade between our two countries has improved from US $700 million to over US $900 million in 2018. Despite the notable increase in trade between our two countries, trade is still low in favour of India. May I take this opportunity to encourage the businessmen and women in this room to take advantage of the good will from us politicians and create relationships that will lead to increased trade to over a billion dollars between the two countries,” Yaluma said.

And Judge Patel advised potential Indian investors to be aware that there is ADR available in Zambia as a means of resolving contractual disputes.

“What, then, are the developments in Zambia that you all need to be aware of? Mediation and arbitration are the two principal processes in the ADR spectrum that have received the blessings of the judicial system and are enshrined in our laws,” Judge Patel said.

The High Court Judge, who along with other judges was appointed to the Bench by President Edgar Lungu in early March, urged potential Indian investors to pay attention to advice given to them by lawyers on contractual matters regarding their investment.

“…And pay attention to the advice given by the lawyers or the technocrats and remember that the dispute resolution provision is a product of the parties, which is why you commonly hear the expression: ‘party autonomy.’ Remember, this is the stage, which is your stage – it’s your process and you have the autonomy to decide on the dispute resolution process,” advised Judge Patel.

“With all due respect to my colleagues, the lawyers, don’t leave this to them because they will draft the most interesting, complicated dispute resolution clauses that will see you running from Paris to Washington, (DC) to New York to China to come back and register your award, which any Zambian arbitrator could have told you: ‘we could’ve done this in Zambia’.”

The Business Forum is the second successive event, which brought together the Indian and Zambian business community in a networking exchange of ideas and possible business linkages between the two countries.

Last year’s inaugural event was graced by the two respective Heads of State of Zambia and India.