ZUPED ADVISES MINISTER OF FINANCE
…. to quickly resolve the issues surrounding KCM by signing the ‘shareholders agreement’ and the ‘implementation agreement’
Lusaka… Monday November 6, 2023 (SMART EAGLES)
The Zambians for Unity Peace and Development (ZUPED) has challenged the Minister of Finance Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane and line ministers to quickly resolve the issues surrounding Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) by signing the shareholders agreement and the implementation agreement so that documents can be registered in the court of arbitration.
The organization says this will result in Vedanta Resources taking over KCM so that government can be getting the necessary foreign exchange and stabilize the kwacha which has been depreciating.
ZUPED President Ronnie Jere says there is no need to politicize these issues.
Mr Jere says the statement attributed to Dr Musokotwane saying the performance of the dollar would have been worse if PF was still in government was unnecessary.
“The Minister was politicizing the issue of the dollar. But we all know that the foreign exchange problem is as a result of having less exports and importing more. We need to use a lot of forex to import and if we can’t have forex in form or dollar there is no way our kwacha can appreciate,” he said.
“We implore the Minister of Finance to quickly help matters by ensuring that the kwacha is stabilized through unlocking mines such as KCM and Mopani Copper Mines.”
Mr Jere has also wondered why the transition process seems to be moving at a snail speed when the government indicated that this will take three months.
He said there is only one month remaining before the period given by Minister of Mines and Minerals Hon Paul Kabuswe elapses.
“As the coalition, we have been waiting for the Minister’s response to our press briefing which we held last month. We have been requesting the minister of Mines and Minerals Development and his colleagues to expedite the process of signing the shareholders agreement and also the implementation agreement so that those agreements could be registered in the court of arbitration. At the moment we are reliably informed that these agreements have not yet been signed and is a source of worry because we are now in the second month and we only have one month before the three months elapses which the minister of Mines announced before they complete the handover of KCM to Vedanta,” he added.
“We are worried because the people of the Copperbelt, the suppliers and contractors have been eager since the minister announced the takeover of KCM by Vedanta to have what was promised fulfilled. But Vedanta is also saying that they are waiting for the shareholders agreement and the implementation agreement to be signed before they register those documents in the courts of arbitration.”
He hoped that the Minister will be able to expedite this process so that those documents can quickly be registered in the court of arbitration.
“The other thing we want to say is that the Minister of Finance’ statement over the free fall of kwacha; we all know that the kwacha has lost value against the major convertible currencies for example the kwacha is trading at K22. 50 per dollar and the response that the Minister of Finance gave to say the Kwacha should have been worse if the PF was still in power is so misplaced and very irresponsible coming from a man holding the financial purse of the country,” he added.
“What the Minister of Mines should focus on is to make sure that he unlocks all the areas where government can get the necessary foreign exchange to stabilize the kwacha. Government also needs to sort out the sugulite issue in Luapula and make sure that they begin to implement what it has planned in this sector.”
He indicated that the only sure way of safeguarding the interests of the businesses both small and medium enterprises is by making sure that the exchange rate is stabilized hence the need to unlock the mining sector.
He also hoped that the government can reduce the fuel prices as this will make sure that enterprises thrive.