Former Luanshya Member of Parliament Steve Chungu has criticized Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe for entertaining the pro- Vedanta Mineral Resource match-past staged by some Chililabombwe youths last weekend.
Indian investor Vedanta Mineral Resource has reportedly expressed interest to return to KCM.
Chililabombwe youths on Saturday morning staged a match-past demanding the return of Vedanta Resources to take over Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) on the Copperbelt.
Mr. Kabuswe was in Chililabombwe on the day and received a petition from youth’s representative Chishala Mwamba which advocated Vedanta’s return to KCM.
Mr Kabuswe, who is also Chililabombwe Member of Parliament, told the youths that the Government is committed to make sure that KCM and Mopani Copper Mines come back to life, and create more jobs.
But Mr. Chungu said the Mines Minister should not have associated himself with the controversial pro-Vedanta match-past in Chililabombwe.
He said the incident has the potential to tarnish Mr. Kabuswe’s image because the match-past was clearly stage managed.
Mr. Chungu said it was clear for anyone to see that the Chililabombwe match-past was funded by people with interests in KCM.
“It is because Vedanta sponsored the recent Mining Indaba in South Africa that is why we Zambians want it to come back? Why should we Zambians be cheated by these investors? It is shocking that we Zambians can even stage manage match-pasts to earn vague support from people. Those were just youths paid from compounds to join the fake solidarity. It was not correct to do that and the match-past was not a genuine thing. Please Zambians wake up and start seeing through these things,” Mr. Chungu said.
“He (Mr. Kabuswe) knew what was happening. If he is the Mines Minister for sure and cares about the Zambian people he should have first said no to that because the people that were doing that have got nothing to do with mining. These people came from compounds all over Chililabombwe and were being brought in bus loads. Where have you ever seen people that are coming to offer solidarity over something they come in bused? Who was paying for that? We can no longer be cheated. These minerals we have in this country more than 100 years ago our relatives died because of Cecil Rhodes. He was mining and killing our people and again we are allowing the same imperialists to come back into this country and mine more of our minerals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chungu has strongly opposed the proposed return of Vedanta to KCM saying the Indian investor should not take Zambians for granted.
He said the mining conglomerate failed the people of Zambia when failing to run KCM properly prior to the liquidation enforced by the previous Patriotic Front regime.
Mr. Chungu said the decision to liquidate KCM by PF was timely and right owing to Vedanta’s inertia to continuously invest in the mine that has operations in Chingola, Chililabombwe and Nampundwe.
“What is there for Vedanta to show that they will come back a better investor? They want to come back and mine our minerals and leave us with nothing. It is wrong thinking that because Vedanta were the owners of the mine so they should come back. We have had other mining firms that have gone. Anglo Americans left this country, they left Konkola Copper Mines but they want to come back with a different name. Who shouldn’t think that they are even part of the Vedanta scheme to return,” Mr. Chungu said.
In a letter addressed to Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe, the Group CEO, Sunil Duggal further said upon return Vedanta shall implement a salary increase across the board.
In November, 2020, a Zambian court ordered a halt to liquidation proceedings for Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to allow owners Vedanta and ZCCM-IH to proceed to arbitration, the provisional liquidator said in a statement.