Copperbelt based good governance activist Peter Mulenga has supported the directive by Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe that the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) quickly dialogue outside court on issues surrounding Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Vedanta Mineral Resources.

Addressing the media in Lusaka on Tuesday, Mr Kabuswe said the government cannot wait for January 2023 for the next court case to be dealt with as this requires urgent attention.

Mr Kabuswe said the government is interested in dialogue so that matters surrounding Vedanta are resolved before next year and progress must be made as to whether Vedanta is exiting or staying in order to calm the public and avoid.

In reaction, Mr. Mulenga said the pronouncement by Mr. Kabuswe on KCM is long overdue and should be supported by all well meaning Zambians.

He said it was gratifying to see that the government is interested in dialogue so that matters surrounding Vedanta are resolved before next year.

“As a good governance activist I wish to support the directive by Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe that the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) dialogue over issues surrounding Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Vedanta Mineral Resources outside court. Indeed, like Mr Kabuswe said the people of Zambia cannot wait for January 2023 for the next court case to be dealt with as this matter requires urgent attention. I believe this pronouncement by Honourable Kabuswe is long overdue and should be supported by all well meaning Zambians. We have all seen that the KCM issue has protracted thereby hindering investment into the mine which has operations in Chingola, Chililabombwe and Nampundwe,” Mr. Mulenga said.

“It is good to note that the government is interested in dialogue so that matters surrounding Vedanta are resolved before next year and we are confident that progress will be made as to whether Vedanta is exiting or staying.I am aware that the call to dialogue over KCM does not mean handing over KCM back to Vedanta as some people are insinuating. Dialogue is a process where the participants commit to listen, observe and reflect with a curious mindset in order to seek a shared understanding. This proposed dialogue by the Government through the Mines Minister is an example of an effective communication process which guarantees good results that will benefit not only the people of Chingola, Chililabombwe and Nampundwe but the entire Zambia,” he said.

Mr. Mulenga observed that the prolonged KCM impasse has been hindering capital injection into the mine operation.

“The court process seen in the KCM issue is usually longer and can drag on and on. The people of the Copperbelt and Zambia in general need to see an end to this issue which has dragged for too long. Many people on the Copperbelt will tell you that KCM has positive, long term benefits generating economic and social benefits for the local communities and wider society. Therefore the Mines Minister is on point to call for dialogue instead of the prolonged court processes that have not yielded anything positive so far. The Government needs to seek new ways to deal with this long running dispute, its further right that a bilateral agreement between the two parties is made. But the first intention is to get parties to the table and to come up with a negotiated resolution. I think it’s for the Zambian people’s wish not to fight these fights in court, it’s not what we want, and we want proper activities coming back in Chililabombwe, Chingola etc soon,” Mr. Mulenga said.

Mr. Mulenga added:”Remember the Judiciary is independent, therefore the Minister of Mines cannot force it to speed up and even if he did, Vedanta can still appear meaning that this can go on and on. So the Mines Minister’s call to dialogue is timely. He is making a clear statement that the new dawn is rising and aims to bring back wealth to the masses, develop all of Zambia, prosper all of Zambia and connect all of Zambia. The one thing about this Minister and the government at large is they want to bring sanity in the country. Things were done in an up hazard way and it’s time to call a spade a spade. Honourable Kabuswe, kindly make the KCM issue your number one priority. We salute you for being brave, we know guns will be breezing now, but keep fighting a good fight sir. I call on well meaning Zambians to support Mr. Kabuswe’s efforts to bring sanity to KCM and the mining sector in general.”

Meanwhile, Vedanta has said that they have set aside US$220 million to dismantle outstanding debt to small and medium contractors in a bid to reduce liabilities and aid the growth of businesses, adding that the company remains committed to offsetting the liabilities.

Vedanta Resources reiterated its position that it remains resolute in playing a part in revitalizing Zambia’s economy in mine development of KCM, serving the community and workforce in a more responsible manner through a structured programme and through an independent trust to empower the youth and women among others.