FORMER State House chief policy analyst, Jack Kalala has prodded President Edgar Lungu to immediately revoke the appointment of Milingo Lungu as Konkola Copper Mines Liquidator following revelations that he abused his authority by paying US$1.6 million to a company in which he has personal interest.
A scandal has emerged at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in which the mining giant has paid US$1.6 million (about K32 million) to a company allegedly bought by liquidator Milingo Lungu through his relative Dingiswayo Ndhlovu, for the supply of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO).
Meanwhile, PF cadres are up in arms fighting for the ownership of Cashfin, the company that has received the US$1.6 million from KCM.
According to KCM sources close to the liquidator, Milingo approached Chilinda, a known PF cadre, asking to buy his company, which he allegedly used to syphon money for a purported consignment of HFO, that was not delivered.
The sources narrated that after buying the company through his relative (Ndlovu), Milingo processed a full payment of US$1.6 million in one day, before his relative withdrew US$1.1 million and paid it to unknown third parties.
In an interview Kalala said Milingo needed to be removed in order to pave way for investigations.
“This is a very fresh and current issue that needs to be investigated. We should not waste time on stale issues we should focus on current issues. This is a matter that requires urgent attention. Milingo was appointed by the President to run the mine and what I have read is that he used a certain company which he has interest in. In my view that is not the first thing he has done he has been doing it in the past and with other PF surrogates, that is how they have been making money,” he said.
“KCM is being run down. Any investor trying to go there will find it is a shell. The ideal thing is that President Lungu must relieve Milingo of his duties immediately. The challenge is that can Lungu do that? Maybe he has an interest in it himself, can he do it? Already we can say the people of Zambia should not expect Lungu to do something serious. Sadly, DEC and other institutions can go in but they will be frustrated. That is the challenge we have at the moment. For now it is very difficult to investigate these cases of corruption.”
He said the problems at KCM started from the manner in which the company was repossessed from it’s parent company, Vedanta.
“This scandal doesn’t come as a surprise. Why it doesn’t surprise is because the manner in which they took over the company was not proper. Given the record that PF has demonstrated in this country, to me it doesn’t come out as a surprise, for them it was an opportunity to steal as they are stealing now. Milingo is not the only one, you recall that [Nathan] Chanda was mentioned that he had been given a huge contract, does that money end up with these people or somewhere? If the President can’t take action against his people then it means that the President has got interest,” Kalala said.
He warned that with the reported scandals involving alleged corruption, Vedanta would go out laughing.
“So we need a report on KCM, what has been the performance of KCM since government and Milingo took over? In this KCM issue it is Vendata who is going to go out laughing; because what it is, is that we didn’t follow the right procedure to takeover the mines. In any case we were not supposed to take over. If there were failures which the company was making, government should have taken them to court. Taking over a mine is not a solution. Governments all over the world are not good at running businesses, they are destroying the confidence for potential investors to come in,” said Kalala.
In May 2019, Zambia’s President Lungu, while on a visit to the the Copperbelt, announced his government takeover of the country’s biggest mining company that employs over 13,000 workers.
Following the takeover of the mine from Vedanta Resources PLC, minority shareholder ZCCM-IH appointed Milingo as provisional liquidator for KCM and to take charge of all assets in order to facilitate the transition process of liquidation.
After his appointment, Milingo said that ZCCM-IH had lost confidence in the way Vedanta was running the affairs of KCM.
He then said operations at the mines would continue, as suppliers would be paid by the liquidator to keep the business going.