Zambia's New President Tells Chinese Investors to Respect Labour Laws

Zambia’s newly-elected President Michael Sata on Monday warned Chinese investors to respect the country’s labour laws to avoid bad blood in workplace.

“Your investment should benefit Zambia and your people need to adhere to local laws,” Sata told Chinese ambassador Zhou Yuxiao, who paid a visit to the new president at State House.

“If they adhere to local laws, there will be no need to point fingers at each other,” Sata said.

Sata, who was elected last week, is known for his tough stand against the influx of Chinese investment into the country, particularly in the mining sector, which he says does not benefit the locals.

China has invested an estimated $6.1 billion (4.3 billion euros) into the southern African nation since 2007, equivalent to more than one third of gross domestic product last year.

Sata told Zhou that China had been instrumental in developing Zambia in a relationship between the two countries dating back to the 1960s.

“Through the visit of President (Hu) Jintao we were given two gifts, and that is a stadium in Ndola and the hospital in Lusaka,” Sata said.

Chinese banks and markets have opened on Lusaka’s streets, but poor Zambians accuse Chinese companies of importing their own workers and mistreating the locals they do employ.

In 2010, two Chinese mine managers were charged with attempted murder for shooting at 11 Zambian workers protesting about poor pay and work conditions.

The case strained relations between the locals and the Chinese, and the charges were later dropped.