Swartbooi advocates for Namibian shareholding in Skorpion

ROSH PINAH: Karas Regional Governor Bernardus Swartbooi is not happy that Skorpion Zinc mine is 100 per cent-owned by Skorpion and Vedanta Zinc International, and that no Namibians have shares in the mine.

Speaking during the inauguration of the State clinic at Rosh Pinah on Friday, the governor stated that it is high time that workers and other Namibian businesspeople are allowed to buy shares in Skorpion.

Swartbooi said people should have benefits of the country’s resources through shares.

“We cannot be afraid to say we want our people to be part of the mine. If Namibians cannot say it, who will say it,” he asked.

The governor also said it is disappointing that a region as rich as Karas experience a rate of 35 per cent malnutrition, thus resources need to benefit the people of the region and eradicate poverty.

“If it is a crime for other people to have shares in this mine, tell us which Article of the Namibian Constitution says so,” he directed the question to the Vedanta management.

Furthermore, he stated that the Rosh Pinah and Aussenkehr settlements should be proclaimed towns as early as 2014, to speed up development of such places.

“We cannot solely depend on mines, and we need to diversify the economy. Also Aussenkehr resources should be expropriated in the interest of the public,” the politician said.

Approached for comment, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vedanta Zinc International, Kishore Kumar confirmed that the mine is 100 per cent owned by Vedanta and Skorpion.

He said it is indeed possible to have other companies on board, but to do that more resources or minerals need to be identified for mining before inviting people on board.

“The mine has a lifespan of four to five years from now, that’s a short period to invite people on board. However, we are not only here to mine zinc, but we also develop the economy,” Kumar responded.

Vedanta is a global metals and mining group originally from India, and operates in countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Ireland and Sri-Lanka.

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