Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo says his ministry does not give work permits to foreigners who engage in casual work which can be done by citizens.

And Kampyongo has cautioned Zambians to be careful not to assume certain people are foreigners based on their skin color because they may have attained citizenship over the years.

The minister was speaking in response to a question from Lukashya PF member of parliament Mwenya Munkonge, Tuesday, who wanted to know whether government had issued any employment permits to foreign nationals for casual work that can be done by Zambians.

“My government has not issued any employment permits to foreign Nationals for casual work that can be done by Zambians. However, in the year 2010, government did issue employment permits to foreign Nationals of Somali origin as drivers of fuel tankers to facilitate transportation of fuel from Tanzania. Since then, government has not issued any permits to foreign Nationals for casual work that can be done by Zambians. Foreign Nationals of Somali origin settled in Zambia as refugees following the war that broke out in Somalia. To facilitate self-reliance among Somali refugees, government granted employment permits to some Somali nationals to work as drivers. I wish to inform this August House that no foreign Nationals are issued with employment permits to work as drivers and bricklayers in the construction industry,” Kampyongo said.

“Foreign nationals who have been found engaging in such jobs that are reserved for Zambians have been prosecuted and removed from the country. Government, through the Immigration Department, has in place monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the employment permits holders only engage in work that is in line with their permits. The risk management and compliance unit is responsible for the monitoring mechanisms and undertakes operations, random checkups and regular inspections in institutions that engage expatriates. The risk management and compliance unit also receives information from members of the public and institutions regarding foreign nationals alleged to be abrogating conditions of work permits. The purpose of the monitoring mechanism is to ensure adherence by permit holders to the conditions of the permits. Those found a rotating the conditions of the permits are penalized in accordance with the provisions of the immigration and deportation act number 18 of 2010.”

And when asked by Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu why the PF had failed to put a stop to foreigners engaging in casual jobs despite the fact that it had been a major campaign issue before assuming office, Kampyongo said not every foreign national found on a construction site was a casual worker.

“It’s permissible, Madam Speaker, that most of these investors that come are allowed to come with some of the technical staff and so if you see some technical staff on the site, it doesn’t mean all of them are doing the casual work. We have most of our citizens who are working under these multinational companies on these sites. We have some sites under the Ministry of Home Affairs and we don’t allow people to do the casual work just as I have stated, bricklaying and other casual related works. But these multinational companies are allowed to bring in a certain number of expert workers on these sites,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kampyongo cautioned citizens to desist from assuming certain people were foreigners based on skin color.

“Madam Speaker, we need to be cautious when we refer to people as foreigners because sometimes, when you look at the colour of someone, you would get to a conclusion and think they are foreigners. There are people who are here on different status, others are residents, and others have over the time acquired citizenship. So sometimes, we should avoid to use what seems like colour in order to determine the status of what those people are. However, we are very strict, Madam Speaker, when it comes to scrutinizing, we have got a very competent committee in the Immigration Department which sits, drawing members from key institutions who sit to scrutinize the applications for work permits and now we have gone digital. Before someone can even come to this country, they will first of all have their applications scrutinized and if they are found suitable to come, that’s when they enter this country,” said Kampyongo.

“And so this team which sits is able to determine and see whether the application someone is making is in an area where we have got our own Zambian citizens who are qualified. Even when the appeals are made after these applications are rejected three times, the minister also sits with a committee to look at these applications and appeals. Like I said in my response, we are now intensifying, check how and random inspections and we will be requesting members of the public to be forthcoming with information. Where they see something irregular, where they see someone they suspect to be a foreigner doing something that a Zambian can do, they should be able to bring the information because there is a propensity by some people who own work permits that may spell something else but because they know that no one will check what they are doing, they would stray to something that is not in line with their permits but when we find those, those are the people that we prosecute and send out of this country.”