President Edgar Lungu has sent a very strong message to the mines that the government means business and it will not tolerate arm-twisting stunts from investors in the mines who are trying to use progressive measures in the mining industry to leave the country. This position taken by President Lungu has even been endorsed by opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
HH in a tweet stated that: “We are glad that PF leaders have acted on our recommendation regarding the welfare of our people on the Copperbelt including finding investors for our mines. It now remains to be seen how they will implement it.” He has seen that the position taken by the government on the mines is for the people’s benefit and nothing else hence he had no choice but to endorse President Lungu’s decision.
When President Lungu made a pronouncement in Ndola on Friday to the effect that his government would end the ‘marriage’ with Vedanta Resources, the majority shareholders in Konkola Copper Mines, mixed reactions flew around in all quarters – especially social media – with some thinking the Head of State was out of his mind to make such an announcement. He tasked the Attorney General and his team to start the legal process for repossession of Konkola Copper Mines from Indian Vedanta Resources Limited that has over the years been making all sorts of excuses to avoid further investments after making millions of dollars from a mine they bought for a paltry $25 million. They have made enough money in Zambia so they can now afford to pull stunts thinking the government will budge. In fact, these Vedanta guys have invested in a Zinc mine in South Africa apparently using money made from our Konkola Copper Mine and some of its assets. So does anyone expect President Lungu and his government to treat these guys with kid’s gloves and let them dictate how the mines should be run and how the people on the Copperbelt should be taken care of? No way!
President Lungu went on to warn Mopani Copper Mine’s majority shareholders as well that similar action will be taken against them if they do not immediately make plans to revive operations at the mines. What followed next was a meeting between the Head of State and directors at Mopani Copper Mines where they pleaded to stay and promised that the mine will up its production to maintain jobs in the mining sector.
The constant threats of withdrawal from Zambia and job cuts by these two mining giants caused some deep despondency among miners and a bulk of businessmen and women that do business with the mines. And this has been going on for years all because they are not ready to pay the rightful taxes to the Treasury. How unfair! Any government that cares for its people and the jobs they have in the mines would not stand idly by and watch the mines inflict all manner of anger, worry and hate towards it for things it has not done. It is because of this that President Lungu decided to say “enough and enough” and threatened repossession of these mines. And for his bold stance and leadership shown, we salute him!
And HH has agreed and supported this move because he knows that there’s no other way to get hold of things in the mines than taking the route President Lungu took.
These investors had previously taken advantage of this country’s leadership and they would always be treated leniently after a few arm-twisting exploits – others would actually tremble before them at the slightest threat of job losses in the mining industry. What would follow is suspension of certain policy decisions or leaving to not pay anything at all. But President Lungu has clearly shown that it is actually very possible to stand some ground and make these mines pay to the Treasury what the government of Zambia and its people deserve. After all, there are so many investors jostling to come in and run our mines in a fair manner.