PATRIOTIC Front Secretary General Davies Mwila has banned ministers and all party officials from commenting on any issues bordering on foreign investors flouting labour laws in the country.
In a statement, Wednesday, Mwila said he had already provided guidance on the matter, and as such, no comments were welcome as they were digressing from the party position.
“Reference is made to recent reports of foreign investors flouting Zambian labour laws and related unfortunate incidents that have also led to the loss of some lives of foreign investors. The rank and file of the Patriotic Front are consequently guided as follows: There will, henceforth, be no digression from the party position or any statements on the matter by any party official, including ministers. The party, through a recent statement by the undersigned, gave its position on the matter. Therefore, no member or party official (including ministers) should digress from that particular position. In addition, the matter is closed to any further statements from the rank and file – including Cabinet Ministers,” insisted Mwila.
“However, we look forward to seeing action points being executed by duty bearers in the relevant Ministries and Government Departments. Under the Investment Act CAP 385 of the Laws of Zambia, with specific reference to Section 30 (1): ‘Notwithstanding the provisions of the Immigration and Deportation Act, an investor, who invests a minimum of two hundred and fifty thousand United States dollars or the equivalent in convertible currency and who employs a minimum of 10 persons shall be entitled to a self-employment permit or resident permit.’
Therefore, an investor can only be classified as a ‘Foreign Investor’ if they bring into the country not less than Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand (250 000) US dollars’ worth of investment.””
He, however, called on ministers to play an active role in screening foreign investors.
“In line with a One-Government-Approach, Ministry of Local Government must actively play its part, just as other ministries, such as Home Affairs and Labour, should play their part in screening some of these so-called ‘Foreign Investors’ doing small businesses like barbershops and hair salons. They may not even have permits to work as beauticians, but they end up choking the market and taking the much-needed jobs from our people. Further, government line ministries must take particular interest in Zambians who obtain trading licenses, which they later sell to ‘foreign investors’,” he said.
“Therefore, Ministry of Local Government and Housing must make a deliberate effort to ensure that licences to operate such businesses, including those outlined above, are not given to ‘foreign investors.’ These type of business opportunities can be, should be and MUST be operated by local people. The Patriotic Front under the leadership of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, is committed to continue growing Zambian businesses and empowering local investors. Lastly, but not the least, when the people speak, it is our duty to listen as the ruling party. Through this statement, all PF functionaries and PF Ministers are guided accordingly.”
Last week, confusion ensued after Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa confronted some Chinese investors, who were reported to be flouting Zambian labour laws. In one incident, Sampa closed down a Chinese-owned restaurant that was allegedly banning black people from entering, and in another incident he closed down a Chinese-owned barbershop for flouting labour laws.
Local Government Minister Charles Banda then held a briefing where he told Sampa to keep to his lane and stop interfering with foreign investments, a move that saw the Mayor apologising to the Chinese community in Zambia.
A day letter, Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo held his own press briefing where he indirectly rubbished Banda’s reprimand on Sampa, saying his office was in support of the Lusaka Mayor, and that he had done nothing wrong.