Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union (CSAWUZ) president Davies Chiyobe says lawmakers should not frustrate the international community by discrediting their assistance because that may lead to them to withdraw their support to Zambia.
Commenting on remarks by Bwana Mukubwa PF member of parliament Jonas Chanda that unlike the western countries, China had been Africa’s all-weather friend as it did not come with any conditions, Chiyobe told News Diggers in an interview that Dr Chanda should not have discredited Western countries in the manner he did.
Chiyobe said Chinese investors had continued exploiting Zambian workers despite being “Africa’s all-weather friend” because they had no respect for the country’s labour laws.
“The Honourable MP for Bwana Mukubwa is very much right that the Chinese have been aa all weather friend, and the solidarity they give to Africa is much very welcome. But it should not be received wholesomely, there must be certain regulations in which things should be addressed if we are not happy. I think the biggest challenge is that as much as they help, we cannot forgo some of our rights as Zambians which we have. The Chinese have been actually been violating some labour rights and I think it was one time the government’s directive even in the industrial relations that there are some jobs which should be done by Zambians. And when people are coming to get permits, under the immigration and refuge act, a work permit can only be given to a foreigner who is looking for employment if that job is not particularly in that country and it will be in that process that Zambians can be trained and when they are trained then that permit can be revoked,” Chiyobe said.
“So as the people come and start employing Zambians to work for them, let them adhere to the labour laws of our country. Hence the call that if they were to come, because they don’t understand how labour laws apply in Zambia, the should be in a position to employ human resources within Zambia who are Zambians who are well vest in these areas. I think once we move in that direction, you may realise that these violation of labour laws will be addressed. So the condemnation is actually around that area of treatment of our workers by way of violating labour laws. So if that one can be addressed, then it will be mean that most of the areas of our cries would have been addressed, as much as the Chinese give their aid to the African countries.”
Chiyobe said all investors and donors needed to be accorded the same amount of respect as the Chinese because they all had different areas in which they were supporting this country.
“I think every country has got their own areas of concentration when it comes to giving aid. If you look at China, they so much concentrate on industrialisation, building structures and the economy. But we do get other support from countries like USA, America has been supporting us in terms of health, they assist us with drugs and in HIV prevention they have been supporting us. Maybe what we need to look at is literary not to condemn to that level whilst they are doing that because if they are provoked they may just withdraw their aid. There is the medication side of the pandemic, those are very critical and normally these come to our aid. They have supported us with a lot of programmes, they have supported malaria and even other outbreaks that have come to this country. But if you look at the Chinese, they are not assisting us in that area but in building roads and other construction projects. So we need to have that balance of thanking whatever aid we have received. Yes some of these donors do come with conditionalities but as a country, we should have a final position on any condition,” said Chiyobe.