MINES and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe says Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu can make changes to the KCM management since he is still in charge.
But Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba has expressed concern over government’s delay to act on issues surrounding KCM.
Lungu recently announced that KCM chief executive officer Christopher Sheppard had retired and that Enock Mponda had been appointed as acting CEO and would also act as CEO for KCM SmelterCo Limited, while Moses Chilambe had been appointed to act as CEO for Konkola Mineral Resources Limited (KMRL).
Commenting on this in an interview, Kabuswe said Lungu was still in charge and had the authority to make the changes.
“As long as he is the liquidator yes, until another one is appointed. Since he is the one who is still in charge, so he can,” he said.
When asked if there was any progress in finding equity partners for both KCM and Mopani Copper Mines, Kabuswe said “we are working on it and [we] will soon make a statement”.
Further asked if there was any progress on the recently shut Kasenseli mine, Kabuswe said there was serious progress in terms of consultations.
“There is serious progress in terms of consultations, we will also soon be making announcements, we are engaging all the necessary stakeholders,” said Kabuswe.
And in a separate interview, Kabala said government had delayed in finding lasting solutions to the KCM crisis.
“In fact, this issue of KCM has taken too long. The back and forth has taken too long. We should have seen government move at great speed to allay fears that have been going on with the issue of liquidation. But the same guy whom today they are saying that he is corrupt, he is the same guy they are using to do all kinds of things at KCM. I don’t think there is anything tangible that you will be expected to come out from the mining sector, I don’t think so. We doubt if anything will come out because the same guy you are saying he is not supposed to be there, he is the same guy who is making decisions, he is the same guy who you are listening to,” said Kalaba.
“It is the same thing that we are seeing in other parastatals. They were busy saying ‘Mundende at Zesco’, Mundende is still CEO at Zesco. So then you wonder what they are talking about. When we say that you are delaying to appoint Permanent Secretaries, they think we are just talking unnecessarily. You can’t have a government in place for three months and they have not appointed a controlling officer who is supposed to be appearing before the Public Accounts Committee at Parliament. Three Months! I think that is terrible. When those Ministers were attending the orientation workshops, what were they being told? Because it seems that we are in a state of just going backwards. There is no will to push things as they should be pushed, people are moving at their own pace. It is quite sad.”
Meanwhile, in a post shared on his Facebook page, Green Party president Peter Sinkamba said there was need for a forensic audit at KCM.
“KCM liquidation issues will require [a] thorough forensic audit in view of allegations of impropriety levelled against the liquidator Milingo Lungu, some of which are before court. Under such circumstances, is it in order for the UPND government to accept a ‘retirement’, sanctioned by the liquidator, considering the CEO ought to be or is a potential key witness if an inquiry was to be constituted to establish the extent of liquidation mischief?” wondered Sinkamba.
“In the next few days, the former CEO will be out of jurisdiction. Meaning he will be out of Zambia and therefore not bound by the Law of Zambia. It is problems like this that prompt me to have issues with President Bally’s “methodical” inertia in addressing the KCM liquidation mess.”