The Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) says they do not care whichever mode of exit is used for Vedanta as long as the main objective of ‘divorcing’ the firm is achieved.
And when asked whether they would have a problem with the Chinese taking over, Chewe evaded the question saying the focus must be on getting rid of Vedanta.
“Iwe naiwe twalilandapo ilyashi ili imiku iyingi sana pali investor ewo tulefwaya. Twa li landapo naimwe ba News Diggers mwa li lembapo, so tapali ilyashi, tuba fumyepo fye (we have spoken about these things and even you as News Diggers have written about it, so there is no problem, as long as they are removed) I think the Zambians, particularly the union, said, whichever mode of exit that we have used, I think the main objective is that Vedanta goes. So whichever route that we have taken, we have no issue, we don’t care. Now what will be the issue going forward is choosing the investor that will come and change the fortunes of Konkola Copper Mines, I think we have no problem, the unions are also included which means we will air our voices in terms of concerns that will be raised and if there is any issue, the union will also be issuing press statements as the process unfolds,” Chewe said.
He explained that the takeover process was an opportunity for the country to get rid of an investor who had failed to deliver.
“You know, Mine Workers Union has been saying that firstly, this is an opportunity that we have as a country to chase underperforming Vedanta who has been singing loudest that they have done this when they have failed. Remember, we called Zambians that if you want to see how Vedanta has failed, go underground, go to Nkana IBU, go to Nchanga open pit, go to underground Nchanga and go to Konkola underground, you will see what we have been talking about. So this opportunity that we have as a country, we must not misuse it by again bringing problematic investors. We will need an investor who will come and develop these mines, add value to these mines for the future generation,” he said.
“We have copper of over US$240 million reserves underground at Konkola which can be mined, once you put infrastructure, for another 100 years. This means there are more enormous job opportunities and business for the community which should be taken out efficiently and safely by an investor. So we need an investor who has got the financial capacity and who will do less promises and do the actual mining and also look at the community. The community needs to benefit and needs to be upgraded. So equally the workers need to also be appreciated in terms of conditions of service and other conditions other than salary. So this is the investor that we will be looking at and we have the opportunity.”
Chewe also thanked the President for bringing more stakeholders on board as this would ensure transparency in the takeover process.
“The head of state has also added more stakeholders to the negotiating team to broaden the knowledge of the negotiating team and also cater for numerous stakeholders so I think this is a direction that all Zambians need. Honesty, transparency and also a turnaround for this copper mine which is dependable for the people of the Copperbelt,” said Chewe.