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AFRINET Calls for Fair Resolution in Konkola Copper Mine Dispute, Opposes Government Takeover

The Inter-Africa Governance Network (AFRINET) is concerned about recent discussions involving political parties like the Patriotic Front, Socialist Party, Economic Freedom Fighters, Golden Party of Zambia, Economic Front, and others regarding who should own the Konkola Copper Mine, currently held by Vedanta Resources Limited.

In a statement issued by Maurice Malambo the Executive Director ofInter-Africa Governance Network (AFRINE), AFRINET has clarified the issue between the Zambian government and Vedanta Resources Limited is mainly a legal matter and should be looked at without any political bias or personal emotions. The emotions should not affect the investment status of the mine.

It’s clear that the previous government, under the Patriotic Front, didn’t follow the right legal procedures when they put the mine under liquidation. This happened because there was a legal agreement in 2005 between the Zambian government and Vedanta Resources Limited that had a special rule for solving disputes. Recent court decisions, including one in Zambia in 2020 and another in South Africa, have mostly favored Vedanta Resources Limited.

Some political parties have suggested that the government should take control of mines in Zambia, a plan that AFRINET doesn’t support. Zambia used to have the government run the economy and mines, but this didn’t work well. That’s why the country changed to a mixed economy in 1993.

Looking at the performance of Konkola Copper Mine during the four years when there was a dispute with Vedanta Resources Limited, it’s clear that even when the government managed the mine, its performance got worse.

Mining needs a lot of money, and in a country with a lot of debt, it’s a good idea to work with private companies through partnerships to avoid getting into more debt. Zambia, like other countries, needs a mix of local and foreign investments to make its economy grow.

While foreign investment is important, it’s not the only solution. Zambia should have a clear mining policy that gradually increases the government’s share in existing mining businesses, gets citizens involved by partnering with foreign investors in a well-planned way, and has fair tax rules that encourage businesses to grow.

AFRINET advises politicians who want the government to take over mines to think carefully. Bad political decisions have caused problems in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa, where people who once fought against apartheid are now treated badly.

Lastly, AFRINET reminds all politicians, whether they are in power or not, and the people of Zambia that Zambia is a stable democracy where there’s room for political discussions. But Zambia also has an economy to take care of, people to lead who need to be united, and a legacy to leave for the future. We should avoid mixing politics with the economy, respect our national institutions, and stay away from politics that could hurt our economy and diplomatic relations.

Bad politics could make it hard for Zambia to turn the big promises of investment, totaling US $14 billion in the first half of 2023, into real investments. It’s not smart for any politician to do well personally at the cost of hurting the whole country.

AFRINET asks everyone in and out of the government to act like grown-ups, be responsible, and be careful, because instability hurts business, trade, industry, and, in the end, our development. 

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