Association of Mines Suppliers and Contractors (AMSC) president Augustine Mubanga says they are not worried about the South African High Court ruling to halt Konkola Copper Mine’s liquidation process because it still needs to be registered locally.
And Mubanga has disclosed that suppliers and contractors have started getting their money from the provisional liquidator, Milingo Lungu, amidst the ongoing KCM liquidation process.
On Tuesday, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg granted Vedanta Resources an urgent interim injunction against ZCCM Investment Holdings and Lungu, the provisional liquidator.
But in an interview with News Diggers! Thursday, Mubanga said the judgment in South Africa did not worry mine suppliers and contractors.
“We are not worried about that judgment because any judgment that has been secured outside the country must be registered locally. And then, after it has been registered by the courts of law for its recognition, then, definitely, it’s an issue because the judge in South Africa doesn’t understand what is prevailing here simply looking at the petition about how Vedanta feels that he has a right to the assets. We don’t know what has happened in South Africa for those judges but the confidence that we have is that judgment can never be executed until it has been registered instantly in Zambia,” Mubanga argued.
“Right now, KCM is insolvent, that is why Anil Agarwal (Vedanta founder and chairman) was failing to pay suppliers and contractors so why should he go to South Africa to fight for an asset, which is in Zambia? Even if there is an arbitration clause in that arrangement, he should have waited for the courts in Zambia to rule whether he is eligible to be part of the conversation in terms of liquidation or not. We will be able to raise preliminary issues, especially that there is another court case that is before our courts in Zambia so we cannot quickly begin to celebrate the judgment in South Africa. We have competent lawyers, judges and courts in Zambia that could equally give a sound judgment over what is prevailing because they know what is happening in the country…”
But when asked if payments to suppliers and contractors would be prolonged as a result of the Tuesday ruling, Mubanga explained that payments were in fact being made.
“The liquidator has already started paying out to our members so he has already started paying those that have $0 – $5,000; they were paid last week. And then, those between $5,000 and $50,000 will be paid by next week so we are on course in terms of getting the money,” he said.
Mubanga also insisted that KCM’s liquidation process would still continue.
“Agarwal, on a number of occasions, he is quoted stating that he cannot put money into a sinkhole. And he has directed his focus…KCM was not his focus, so why should he continue to fight for a sinkhole? We do not know his motive. He is on record saying he is not making profits so why should he continue to fight for a loss-making entity? He has sold all the assets and infrastructure that ZCCM-IH left, he is only holding on to the smelter because he thinks the smelter is what he has put his investment in. He has not developed underground mining in Nchanga; he has closed that operation! What kind of investment is he trying to hold on to?” wondered Mubanga.
“We are confident that the process government has instituted is simply right for us to take back the assets and give it to people who will be able to recapitalize it and put more money in such investments…”