NEWS coming from Ndola that the Court of Appeal has reversed a High Court decision on the liquidation of Konkola Copper Mines and referred the matter to arbitration has not sat well with members of the Patriotic Front party and the government. We understand that there is panic in the camp over what step to take over this development.
This does not come as a surprise to us. The PF were so sure that KCM was gone and they said it publicly that it’s a done deal, a closed matter. They started taking turns looting the assets of the mine at will and they thought there would be no consequences. We watched and waited for this day when they will be reminded that to every action, there are consequences.
This takeover of KCM from the investor was totally illogical, and did not make any sense at all to anyone. This was a clear case of expropriation of a business, and we knew that there would be consequences. Copper mining is a cash intensive business and, therefore, the financial implications for taking over a mine such as Konkola Copper Mines from an investor are huge.
When we look at KCM today, we find that the mine is far worse than it was before the so-called provisional liquidator took over. The reason is simple: Mr Milingo Lungu is not a mining expert, but instead of winding up the business and liquidating the assets, they asked him to continue running it as a going concern. It should not surprise us that the mine was turned into a cash cow for PF cadres, MPs and ministers. This is why Mr Milingo has never been able to explain what he has been liquidating at KCM.
When the PF took over KCM, it was on the pretext that the firm was failing to pay suppliers and was accruing too much debt. It was on grounds that the mine had failed to inject fresh capital and to keep the operations afloat. So it was surprising that after taking over the mine, the PF decided to plunge it into deeper debt.
One of the biggest challenges that KCM faces is the electricity bill. KCM does not have the capacity to pay for the electricity that it is using for the ongoing activities. The Liquidator has been claiming that the mine is running smoothly, but they are failing to explain why a profit-making company is failing to pay for electricity. How?
This Vedanta case will cost the country a lot of money. Sadly, these corrupt, opportunistic politicians who brought us this trouble will not be in power when Vedanta will come to mop up our Treasury for compensation. In a normal situation, the entire ZCCM board deserved to be fired for colluding with politicians and plunging the country into this mess.
Time is now ticking and it is ticking fast for those who have been doing illegal things at KCM to pay. All those who have been using KCM to launder money using suppliers and contractors, all those who have been stealing through illegal and fraudulent bank transactions at KCM, must know that soon, it will be time for them to account.
We would like to take our hats off to the judges in the Court of Appeal. These judges have acted in the interest of the country. They have sent a clear and strong message to the International Community that “yes, our politicians are lawless, but we have a functioning judiciary in Zambia.”
The KCM judgement is a wonderful judgement and it has restored some dignity to this country in a way. A country can survive with corrupt politicians, but it cannot survive with corrupt judges. You don’t need academic qualifications to become a politician, and so citizens can elect an outright thief into public office. But the call to the bench is a noble calling which is a preserve of high caliber intellectuals who must be brave to uphold law and order. Those judges deserve the nation’s gratitude.They have done well.