Vedanta exit long overdue- Hichilema

By Staff Reporter

Hakainde Hichilema says his party has been consistent that Vedanta Resources, the majority shareholders in KCM should have gone a long time ago due to breaches and violations of numerous contractual agreements and obligations with the Zambian people.

In a statement, the UPND president stated that there was lack of proactive actions to address key issues affecting Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and other mines.

“We have been very categorical and consistent that Vedanta should have gone a long time ago due to clear breaches and violations of numerous contractual agreements and obligations with the Zambian people. Like we stated before, the Zambian government is fully represented in the KCM board through ZCCM-IH appointed by the PF regime and were fully participating in the daily operations and the management of our mining giant. To that end, ZCCM- IH obviously updated the PF and State House on an ongoing basis on the state affairs in KCM, but they took no action,” Hichilema stated.

And Mines Minister Richard Musukwa has hailed opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for endorsing government’s decision to disengage Vendata Resources from KCM.

Musukwa said Hichilema deserved commendation for supporting the winding-up process at KCM in the interest of the people of Zambia.

He has since urged Hichilema and other opposition leaders to feel free to render any form of advice to his ministry towards enhancing the operations of the mining sector.

Musukwa has told ZNBC News in Lusaka that the PF government had been proactive in managing the situation at KCM and the entire mining sector since 2013.

He however, said that Hichilema and other opposition leaders should approach his Ministry to offer advice other than restricting their commentaries to media engagements.

Musukwa said he was ready to follow and directly engage opposition leaders that may be having challenges accessing his ministerial office at any given time.

Meanwhile, Hichilema stated that the government was not serious in addressing issues affecting employees at KCM due to personal benefits.

“We have no doubt that the lack of proactive actions that would have averted the ongoing crisis was motivated by personal benefits that the top PF leadership were enjoying from the ailing KCM at the expense of employees, contractors, citizens on the Copperbelt and the country at large. We are aware and have been advising our PF colleagues on many other challenges being faced by our citizens in other mining houses such as Mopani, NFCA, Luanshya Copper Mine and many other public entities, but as per usual incompetence, nobody wants to take proactive interventions,” Hichilema stated.

“Our social media platforms inboxes are full of complaints from our citizens requesting us to intervene, but our people should know that we don’t hold any executive powers at the moment, and the least we can do is merely offer advice and alternative solutions. Ultimately, the real power lies in you our fellow citizens to determine the governance of our country, by either continuing with the same mediocrity and incompetence, or change the course of action. The power is firmly in your hands.”

However, the opposition leader fears that the government’s mishandling of the KCM matter would have wider implications for the country.

“But we should all know that the ongoing mishandling of KCM and other mining houses has wider and long term implications for generations to come. Already, we are paying a heavy price over the manner we mismanaged LapGreen and generally the entire economic situation such as heavy massive borrowing from expensive windows like the Eurobonds,” stated Hichilema. “The unfortunate thing is that some of the people who claimed to be patriotic citizens and put us in this huge debt burden and economic mess are no longer there, but we are all paying for their mismanagement.”