Mmegi Online :: Indian multi-billionaire cosies up to Masisi
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Last Updated
Friday 16 November 2018, 13:42 pm.
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Indian multi-billionaire cosies up to Masisi

Anil Agarwal, an Indian industrialist who owns 21% of Anglo American and boasts a net wealth of US$4 billion (P39 billion) is apparently cosying up to new president, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
By Mbongeni Mguni Pauline Dikuelo Fri 20 Apr 2018, 13:35 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Indian multi-billionaire cosies up to Masisi








Agarwal, renowned for his rags-to-riches story where he built his empire from selling scrap metal, has already met twice with Masisi in the new President’s first 20 days in office.

The industrialist holds a controlling stake in Vedanta Resources, a London-headquartered global diversified metals and mining group he founded in 1976.  Vedanta, which posted a net income of US$880 million last year, owns one of Zambia’s largest copper operations, while the government of Zambia indirectly has equity as well.

Masisi and Agarwal met in Lusaka, Zambia 10 days after the new president’s swearing-in, at the five-star Taj Pamodzi hotel situated in the centre of the capital. Agarwal was part of a delegation of 300 Indian businesspeople attending the Zambia-India business forum, while Masisi was in town to meet President Edgar Lungu, as part of a regional whistle-stop tour.

Photographs shared by the Twitter-savvy industrialist show him and Masisi beaming in one of the conference rooms at Taj Pamodzi. Mmegi journalists who were in Lusaka around the time of Masisi’s visit reported seeing a large contingent of Indian businessmen arriving ahead of the two Presidents' meeting at the Zambian State House.

Prior to the Indians’ arrival, officials at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport were seen scurrying about preparing the red carpet for the businessmen’s arrival.

Masisi and Agarwal’s interactions were held behind closed doors with little official from either party. The industrialist did however tweet that the two had “explored collaboration opportunities between India and Botswana”.

On Wednesday,

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a week after their Lusaka encounter, Masisi and Agarwal met again in London where the President is attending the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

This time, Agarwal gave a snapshot into the discussion, hinting that he was sounding out opportunities in Botswana’s mining sector. The First Lady, Neo Masisi was also in attendance at the meeting which appears to have been held at Agarwal’s upmarket Mayfair suburb, one of the British capital’s most luxurious.

“Pleasure to meet Hon President and First Lady of Botswana in London,” Agarwal tweeted from his official account.

“His Excellency is keen to take Botswana forward, create jobs, explore copper and zinc mines. I’m happy that he believes India and Botswana have strong relations and (a) bright future together.”

Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources has zinc operations in India as well as interests in Namibia, South Africa and Ireland. Botswana’s most advanced zinc project is owned by Australia’s Mount Burgess Limited which is exploring a 30 million tonne resource also containing lead and silver. By yesterday evening, efforts to contact Masisi’s aides had proved fruitless, while Foreign Affairs minister, Vincent Seretse who is accompanying the President, was out of reach.

While Agarwal’s investments are blossoming across the continent, the industrialist has also faced a litany of fines and accusations relating to safety and environmental lapses at his operations.

Vedanta’s Zambian operations have previously been fined millions of US dollars for polluting key rivers used by communities near their copper mines.

 

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