Kafue UPND member parliament Mirriam Chonya says China has been a thorn in the flesh of some Zambian workers who have complained about poor conditions of service.
But Bwana Mkubwa PF member of parliament Jonas Chanda says Zambia needs China more than China needs Zambia.
Debating a motion on the Report on the Committee on National Economy, Trade and Labour matters, which moved by Liuwa UPND member of parliament Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane, last week, several UPND members of parliament urged government to proceed with caution over the China’s rapid investments in the country.
Chonya cautioned that government should critically assess its relationship with China on account of the latter’s poor conditions of service rendered to Zambians.
“China has been a good partner, but also a thorn to our fellow Zambians, who have cried about the poor conditions of service under which they serve! The issue of corruption has been talked about. What comes to mind while they are all these enviable things about China and the benefits, which we can get from engaging with trade relationships with them; the aspect of corruption doesn’t seem to be very far away from whatever transactions we are doing with China, which was not really the case with other government Zambia has traded with because they have emphasized on the issues of rule of law; the issues of corruption when they are transacting business,” Chonya argued.
“For China, from what we are hearing on the street, this seems to be part of the all arrangement, and again, this is where we should be appealing to our leaders to have integrity and look at the greater good of society and not what they able to cut for themselves at the expense of the majority Zambians!”
Mwinilunga UPND member of parliament Newton Samakayi observed that there was need for the country to adopt strategies that would protect Zambians in the business environment.
“There is need for this country to come up with strategies that will be able to protect Zambians in the business environment, and I know that calls for robust legal framework that will protect Zambians. Mr Speaker, the problem that we have in terms of the relationship between Zambia and China and trade and investment is that one, we have allowed China to come and setup a Bank of China here in this country and the Chinese are accessing cheaper loans from the Bank of China. Zambians are not able to access these cheaper loans from the Bank of China,” observed Samakayi.
“It, therefore, gives the Chinese that are in business in this country an advantage over Zambians and I have echoed what many speakers have said there is need for us to come up with quality investments for the Chinese that are coming to invest in this country.”
But Chanda said Zambia could not afford to lose China’s friendship because the former had more to benefit in the bilateral partnership.
“Let me mention from the outset that China is a friend and a very important partner for Zambia despite the propaganda you may hear. China is actually a friend, and Zambia needs China more than China needs Zambia. So, that is what we need to understand; it is a partner; it is a friend. Secondly, China has a very impressive economic model that we will do well to learn what has made China to work because not long ago, China was a third world (developing) country with a very huge population of over a billion people, very poor so they have every excuse: not much of natural resources, but what has China done? China has run an economic model with some Western institutions like Bretton Woods, International Monetary Fund (IMF) if you read the book by Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize winner economist, the IMF and World Bank went to two countries China and Russia to advise them in the 1980s on how to restructure their economies and the recommendations were that the economies were supposed to be opened up rapidly; do mass privatization, the State has no role in business that is what the advice was,” said Chanda.
“So, Russia, under the president Mikhail Gorbachev swallowed the whole pill; the whole medicine including the water and the glass. They were given and the result we saw was that Russia collapsed economically. Chinese refused, they went for a gradualist model where the State actually participates so much and they participate in a very efficient manner focusing on productivity, they won! It is not a foreign-owned economy, this explains why China’s growth has been so phenomenal and history by the way, this is a country that has taken seven million people out of poverty. Apart from just that, it is a fact, we (17.4 million Zambians) are very few here and we can still do it.”
Lupososhi PF member of parliament Lazarus Chungu echoed Chanda’s sentiments, insisting that China’s transformation was the greatest admirable event that had taken place in modern history.
“We have not learnt much from our relationship with China, which, of course, (derives) all the way from Independence period to-date. We have not learnt much and we are ought to learn, to take time to learn the accomplishment China has made, and it has done it clearly! Mr Speaker, China s transformation is the greatest admirable event in recent times! China, within a short space of time, has invested greatly on healthcare and currently 95 per cent of China’s population has healthcare cover. The education system is comparable to that of the USA,” said Chungu.