NO one who is well informed can fail to see that Konkola Copper Mines is a very important asset in the economic life of Zambia. And when you deal with KCM, you are basically doing open heart surgery on the economy of Zambia. What that means is that you must be very careful with what you are doing. But that is not the way this issue has been dealt with.
The President and his friends seem to want to deal with this issue as an extension of political games. There is nothing that they are unprepared to do in order to get things their way. It even seems that they are willing to destroy the country’s economy just to get their way. As far as we know, the question of what to do with KCM is a matter that is before our courts and also subject to arbitration.
Our courts decided recently that the question of what to do with KCM should be decided through arbitration. But in what seems like a move calculated to undermine that decision of the court, President Lungu’s agent at KCM, Mr Milingo Lungu, seems to have gone in overdrive and started announcing the restructuring of KCM and splitting up the company. We are not lawyers or accountants, but the little that we know from running our own business is that you cannot simply wake up and start splitting assets unless you own them.
How is Mr Milingo managing to split KCM? Which court is supervising him whilst he is doing that? If he is restructuring KCM in the manner that has been announced, he is moving assets around. How is he managing to move assets without the involvement of the court and all the creditors? Where are the debts that KCM owes going to sit? Which of the two companies will be liable for the debt owed to suppliers? What about those who owe KCM? To whom are they supposed to pay since you have now made the company non-existent?
It is now very clear to us that in the same way that this whole liquidation process was started without much thought, the process has continued without much thought. KCM has now become a carcass which those who are close to power can feast on at the expense of the whole economy.
We must warn once again that these senseless things that they are doing are going to cost the tax payers. It is us the ordinary people of Zambia who are going to pay for these useless decisions that are being taken [and we have actually been paying already by footing the wage bill for the KCM workers against our will].
Zambia has no shortage of experts who could have advised government very competently on how to deal with the problems encountered at KCM. But it seems that in the usual fashion, the PF are not dealing with the problems at KCM, they are dealing with their own problems.
It should not surprise us that this whole process has become a fundraising venture for the well-connected who pretend to be doing it for the benefit of the party. Mr Milingo’s actions which he is carrying out with the protection of State House are a danger to our economy. And it is this kind of impunity and recklessness that has put us in the economic quagmire that we are in.
These people in PF must be reminded that this is not their father’s farm where they can do as they please. This is not their mother’s kitchen where they can eat whatever they crave!
To those that are excited about the development at KCM, we have a message for them: when people who are well informed like mine workers unions decide to comment on this issue, they must be very careful. The simple question that they must answer is this: is what Mr Milingo doing legal? Is he following the procedures prescribed by our laws?
This is not about Vedanta, it is about the law! Those who were complaining that Vedanta was bad must be careful not to celebrate those that are worse than Vedanta. What we see at KCM gives us reasons to fear that it might be open season for thieves. The maneuvers at KCM don’t make sense at all!