By ADRIAN MWANZA
THE current Government needs to be careful when dealing with Vedanta which has pledged to invest $1.5 billion to rescue KCM. Green Party president Peter Sinkamba said that Vedanta chairperson Anil Agrawal had in the past proved not to be trustworthy after outlining a 50-year vision for mining and his plans for investing another $1 billion for the next phase of growth turned out to be fake. Mr Sinkamba said if indeed US$1.5 billion was invested into the KCM operations, the nation would stand to benefit greatly from the current high copper prices.
He wondered if Vedanta would this time around honour its commitment after having cheated several times before. Mr Sinkamba said it was better to tread carefully because “once bitten twice shy” hence the need to be more careful. “However, the problem is Vedanta itself, we have heard this sort of story from Vedanta before. Most recently was in 2017 when former President Edgar Lungu, met Vedanta Resources Chairman, at State House, according to Anil, the investment was expected to create jobs. This never happened,” he said.
Mr Sinkamba said in his own words Agrawal said he wanted KCM to be the largest integrated copper producer in Africa, the pride of Zambia and Vedanta’s hub for copper and cobalt production in Africa which never came to fruition. “It was all lies the investment never came in fact the operations ended up almost grinding to a halt till ZCCMIH moved in with a liquidation process,” he said.
He said he supported the idea of dialogue over the liquidation of KCM and said, neither the liquidation action nor the arbitration would be brought to finality anytime soon. Mr Sinkamba said the two processes could take between 10 to 15 years but dialogue could be concluded in a matter of days.
“If we have to resolve this issue via dialogue which is my preference, then first of all, Vedanta must deposit the pledged investment of $1.5 billion into an escrow account held at Bank of Zambia the account could then be operated jointly by Vedanta and ZCCM-IH to ensure the funds are genuinely and timely channelled towards the pledged activities,” he said. Mr Sinkamba also called on a joint operations and that it needed to be jointly done and managed by ZCCM-IH and Vedanta.