MINES Minister Richard Musukwa says KCM provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu’s activities at the mining company is consistent with, and within the provisions of the law.

And Musukwa has reiterated that there are a number of investors lined up and interested to partner with ZCCM-IH to operate KCM once the ongoing arbitration processes have been exhausted.

Musukwa said this in Parliament, Tuesday, when he responded to a written question from Nchanga PF member of parliament Chilombo Chali, who wanted to know what the status of KCM’s provisional liquidation process as of July, 2020; whether there was any arbitration process between Vedanta Resources and ZCCM-IH going on in South Africa, and what effects the outcome of the arbitration process would have in the liquidation process in the Zambian courts of law.

“Government will be coming up with a comprehensive statement over the liquidation of KCM at an appropriate time [and] at the instance of the Speaker’s (Dr Patrick Matibini) authority. As for now, in August, 2019, Vedanta appealed against the High Court’s decision to dismiss the application to stay the winding-up proceedings and refer the matter to arbitration. Consequently, the procedures were stayed, pending determination of the appeal. ZCCM-IH Investment Holdings also appealed against the court’s decision to stay the proceedings. As at August, 2020, the said appeal was heard and we await the decisions of the court of appeal. The arbitration process between Vedanta Resources and ZCCM-IH commenced in July, 2019, and is still ongoing in the South African courts. The parties agreed on the sole arbitrator to hear and determine the proceedings. The outcome of this matter is dependent on the court and, therefore, we are not able to indicate the effects, if any, before the courts make a decision. As the liquidation process is a court-driven matter, only the court can determine the dates of when it will be concluded,” Musukwa responded.

Asked by Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu on what Milingo was doing at KCM if he did not sell the assets to pay off the debt, Musukwa maintained that he is acting within the law.

“What the current liquidator is doing at KCM is consistent with the provisions of the law. As you know, the liquidation is at the instance of the minority shareholder, who expressed misgivings about how the large shareholder was handling and managing the company. So, currently, what is going on is that as we wait for these court processes to be expedited and concluded, the operations at KCM is going on and the liquidator is managing through paying off debts, both to old and current suppliers and contractors, and the operation is being sustained,” Musukwa responded.

And Serenje MMD member of parliament Maxwell Kabanda asked Musukwa about what exit strategy he had put in place to compensate KCM workers that were likely to be affected in the event that the court ruled against government.

But in his response, Musukwa said government remained confident that it had a solid case against Vedanta.

“Mr Speaker, we started the liquidation process because we were very confident that we have a solid case against Vedanta. And we were very confident that following the rules of natural justice, the people of Zambia and the workers of Nchanga, Konkola, Nampundwe and Kitwe have a better case in this regard. And in an event that this matter does not go in their favour, the Government of the Republic of Zambia reserves the rights in terms of appeal processes using the court process because as you know, we are a government of laws and we will ensure that we fight this process anchored on the strength of the law. And we are confident that we have a better case to succeed in a court of law,” he replied.

Meanwhile, Musukwa reiterated that there were a number of investors lined up and interested to partner with ZCCM-IH to operate KCM.

“We are optimistic, as government, that we will win this case. And once this case is quickly concluded, we will ensure that we deal with the issues relating to the welfare of the workers. His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia, has guided that among our priorities is to ensure that we safeguard the welfare of the workers and serve for this process. We have a number of investors who are lined up and interested to partner with ZCCM-IH and run and operate this mine. Government is not in the business of running the mine. We would like to concentrate on the policy direction and do politics, while business entities do running of the operations,” said Musukwa.