Murder is murder. When you arrest someone and charge them with murder, you cannot take that person to court and try them for theft, or arson. Likewise, when you are arrested and charged with defamation, you cannot go to court and start defending yourself against an assault charge. The law is as clear as that; every criminal offence has a specific name and court procedure that it follows.
But we have noticed that our leaders in government would like to hoodwink the public by deliberately misinterpreting matters that are very straightforward. Listening to Chief Government Spokesperson, Dora Siliya, explaining the meaning of the KCM liquidation last week, we couldn’t help but laugh at her mischievous talent.
“If government made a decision to put the company into liquidation, the company is still existing as at this point and the assets of KCM are still existing. But government is saying this arrangement, we want to liquidate it. We are not liquidating the company, the company is operating as a going concern right now,” said Siliya.
“We are aware that previously, people associated liquidation with winding up a company and selling assets but this is not what is happening here. What is happening is winding up a relationship; a business and commercial relationship between ZCCM-IH and Vedanta, not the mine.”
Really Honourable? You are winding up and liquidating a relationship with Vedanta and not the mine? Really? Since when did the definition of liquidation change? How can you say you are liquidating the company, but at the same time insist that it will continue operating as a going concern? This cannot make sense to anyone at all, and one doesn’t need to be a lawyer to see that the minister is trying to launder a government that has been caught in a web of its own lies.
Like we have stated in the past, Honourable Siliya is a talented spin-doctor who has survived through various governments because of her ability to convince the public against something that they can see with their eyes and hear with their ears. This minister has the ability to sell ice to an Eskimo in Alaska. When she is talking, she is so charming that you just want to agree with her even when you know that she is defending a wrong.
Ati “Previously people used to associate liquidation with winding up a company and selling the assets, but this is not what is happening here.” How? This is like saying, “in the past, people used to associate murder with taking the life of another person, but this particular murder is about taking another person’s food.” Does that make sense?
Murder is murder; it cannot change its definition to suit the accused or the victim. In the same vein, liquidation is liquidation; let’s not change its definition to suit the government or the investor whose business has been taken away. Liquidation is not the same as receivership, or insolvency, or care and maintenance. Liquidation simply means winding up a company, for whatever given reasons, and selling its assets so that it ceases to exist.
Here is the issue: you told the people of Zambia that you were liquidating Konkola Copper Mines because the investor, Vedanta, had failed to pump in the required capital to sustain operations and keep the workers in employment. This is what Vedanta is challenging in court. They are objecting to the liquidation of their mine on the grounds you gave. You chose not to sue Vedanta for breach of agreement, and opted for liquidation, so you cannot turn around and trivialize the charge while desiring to subject the victim to the intended punishment.
We are not trying to glorify Vedanta for whatever mistakes they made at Konkola Copper Mines. Our interest is to show how people will end up paying because of a hasty decision made by a careless government. These are serious matters that require serious precautions in order to protect all interests, not just the interests of a few people.
Look now, the same minister who is boasting about chasing Vedanta is saying KCM has absolutely no cash flow at the moment and is relying on government resources to pay the over 13, 000 employees. If the KCM wage bill is US$2 million a month, where is government getting this money? It is the innocent taxpayers who have been forced to take over this liability.
Yes, the workers, suppliers and contractors at Konkola Copper Mines needed a more serious investor to take care of their concerns, but the rest of the Zambian people want a more serious government that will sort out investment disputes without inconveniencing them. We can’t have thieves converging to siphon public resources through a bogus liquidation process and calling it government intervention!