UPND Secretary General Stephen Katuka has warned that Zambians will rise against Chinese if government continues giving them contracts at the expense of locals.
In a statement, Monday, Katuka observed that the rate at which the Zambian government was entertaining Chinese nationals who were displacing Zambians through big financial offers had created serious anxiety among citizens.
He warned that Zambia may soon start experiencing xenophobic attacks if government did not pay attention to citizens’ concerns.
“Xenophobia is defined as ‘deep-rooted fear towards foreigners’ and ‘fear of the unfamiliar’. The word comes from the Ancient Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning ‘strange’, ‘foreigner’ Xenophobia has also been defined as dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. Xenophobia, simply put, is the fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers. Some of the factors that cause Xenophobia include the following: 1.Reckless take over of property and opportunities by foreigners like land, employment and Businesses ; 2. Abuse of locals by foreign investors; 3. Fear of losing territorial control by the locals; 4. Religious differences and racial differences; 5. When the Central government is seen to favour the foreigners at the expense of local ones; and 6. Anxiety among citizens triggered by a feeling of neglect by the government,” Katuka stated.
“There are a number of countries which have experienced Xenophobic attacks; Some of the most recent ones being South Africa in which there was a feeling among South Africans that the high unemployment levels were caused by an influx of foreigners who were preferred by the South African Authorities than the locals. This led to arbitrary killings and aggression on foreign nationals especially those from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This act prompted the South African government to expatriate South African nationals who were in the diaspora like Mozambique, Nigeria and many others after word went round that the host nationals would retaliate. To date, there is systematic killings and aggression on foreigners in south Africa. The other forms of Xenophobia though complex to substantiate could be the Boko Haram offensive on the Western education which has culminated into what looks like acts of terror on civilians either from the Northern Part of Nigeria or Southern, but more dominant in the Bono State peninsula.”
Katuka advised government to come up with guidelines outlining exactly what kind of works foreigners were allowed to do in Zambia.
“At the rate Zambia is entertaining Chinese nationals in which they are displacing Zambians through big financial offers is but a time bomb. It has also been noticed and reported that, in some instances, the Chinese are beating Zambians in places of work for simply failing to follow instructions. This is a serious indictment on the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. In some cases, government is awarding high cost road construction contracts to the Chinese firms some of which have monopolized the system. This has created serious anxiety among the marginalized local contractors and if this situation is allowed to degenerate, it may lead to aggression on foreign nationals. Today, just listening to live phone-in radio programs will suggest serious anxiety and uneasiness among Zambians. There is also a concern by some Zambians that the Chinese are even getting as far as selling phones on the street and running restaurants, which, from the understanding of Small and medium Enterprises should be a preserve of poor Zambians,” stated Katuka.
“If the above grievances are not attended to through enactment of pro-Zambian investment policies or partnership oriented investment policies, we may reach a stage where there would be an uprising against foreign nationals as many Zambians have no capacity to compete in business with foreign nationals. German has a history of Xenophobia especially against the Jews. This was experienced as far back as the time of Adolf Hitler who was reportedly triggering fires and later accused the Jews of arson. We do not want to see this Xenophobia in Zambia given government’s recklessness in administering opportunities to foreigners at the expense of the Zambians.”