Canadian-based Zambian lawyer Elias Munshya says the South African High Court’s ruling on Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc has embarrassed the Zambian Judiciary.
On Tuesday, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg granted Vedanta Resources an urgent interim injunction against ZCCM Investment Holdings and KCM provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu.
Reacting to the development, Munshya stated the ruling had embarrassed the Zambian Judiciary because another court of law in a different jurisdiction had done what the Lusaka High Court ought to have done.
“Zambia has excellent legal minds. It has exceptional jurists. However, there is something fundamentally problematic within the Zambian legal system that continues to tolerate mediocrity. When ZCCM-IH obtained the ex-parte order from the Lusaka High Court to begin liquidating KCM, we sounded the alarm. The alarm was really not about whether Vedanta was the right investor or not; it was really about whether the judicial proceedings commenced in the Lusaka High Court made legal sense. The law is essential in human development. For Zambia, as a country seeking Foreign Direct Investment, it must show that it means business, and that the Judiciary will be free from politics and political interference. The ex-parte order to liquidate KCM was so irregular that it did not make sense. We challenge our friends in Zambia’s legal fraternity to stand up for common sense and the rule of law, even when it comes to matters of commerce,” Munshya stated on his Facebook page.
“The High Court in Gauteng, South Africa, has done the work that should have been done by the Lusaka High Court. This decision from Gauteng is an embarrassment to the Zambian Judiciary. The judges in Zambia want to play it big, but they are not ready for the international stage. This Zambian Judiciary, at least from a commercial law perspective, remains a toddler. It cannot be taken as a serious arbiter of disputes between big international players. Moreover, the way the KCM liquidation issue has been handled lends credence to this assessment.”
He also wondered why KCM’s liquidation process was so urgent that the Zambian court granted the state an ex-parte order, without allowing Vedanta to be heard.
“Madam Justice Banda-Bobo issued an ex-parte order to appoint a lawyer, who is a prominent member of the Patriotic Front, to be the provisional liquidator of KCM. At close inspection of that very order the Madam Justice issued, it was clear that there was nothing provisional about it. It was a full order to liquidate and sell assets of KCM, couched in the title of being provisional. We sounded the alarm. However, it was ignored. Even more crucial was the fact that this particular order was obtained ex-parte – without allowing Vedanta to respond. How is that even right? How did the Zambian Judiciary begin even to contemplate that this was right? What was so urgent about this order that the Judge allowed it to be granted ex-parte?” asked Munshya.