UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says there is growing tension in the country because government is giving more business opportunities to foreigners than Zambians.

Meanwhile, Hichilema says like George Floyd, a lot of Zambians had died at the hands of police.

Speaking on SABC News, Wednesday evening, Hichilema said the failure by government to take into account the importance of offering jobs to Zambians rather than foreigners has spurred friction among youths.

“There is definitely tension in the country. There is a feeling amongst citizens that opportunities are being given to the Chinese more than the local people are. What are these opportunities? Access to land, mining licences, trader’s licences, contracts in the road sector. The citizens are seeing this trend as one which is favoring foreigners in particular China at the expense of local people, at the expense of jobs for the local people. You will find that a company, a road construction company run by the Chinese, the basics of jobs are being done by the Chinese while Zambians remain unemployed. So I think this is the issue here and any government must take into account the importance of offering opportunities for jobs, for business, for contracts to its citizens as well. Otherwise you create this friction, that is what is happening in Zambia,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema also said government illegally deprived locals from undertaking gold exploration by giving access to a Karma mining, a Sudanese company.

“We all understand the importance of investment in a country to grow the economy, to create jobs but what is happening in our country is that the issuance of all opportunities in the mining sector to entities, in this particular case we are talking about the Sudanese group of people that they have been given access to the gold resources. Resources that a number of Zambians already had licences over and this government is trying to take away the mining rights, the mining opportunities, processing opportunities and granting them to Sudanese in a dubious manner without actually making a competitive permit along the way. So that marks of corruption, that is what citizens are complaining about,” he said.

And Hichilema said government was using police to suppress youth voices on various matters.

“The youths were voicing their concerns with regards to employment, to lack of opportunities and indeed many other difficulties that the population in Zambia is having. The youth in particular, even the issues of schools, colleges, are a problem long before the coronavirus arrived here, already, our population was in distress. The youths had been voicing their views and dissatisfaction and one Minister in Lusaka threatened to brutalize the youths using the police and using their political party thugs,” he said.

“The President, instead of actually moderating his Minister, he encouraged his Ministers that they should actually use the police with the Minister of Home Affairs to actually brutalise the youths, including the musicians who voiced their dissatisfaction on the living conditions of the country, this is unacceptable. I have encouraged the youths to continue respecting their freedoms, their rights especially the freedoms of expression because that is a legal entitlement, that is the natural justice, it cannot be taken by anybody.”

Hichilema said it had become a pattern for the PF government to use the police to suppress citizens.

“Nobody needs to be incited by anybody, these are adults, the youths have entered adulthood, they understand the provisions in the constitution, they understand that these provisions are universal, they don’t need my encouragement or indeed anybody else’s encouragement. So, they are doing what is right, anybody that stands in their way, anybody that tries to silence them is actually breaking the constitution, is breaking the law. So there is no issue of inciting anybody, it is within the legal limits. So, nobody should be uncomfortable unless a leadership that is confirming that it is brutal and it is oppressing citizens. We don’t want anyone to oppress citizens’ rights,” Hichilema said.

Meanhile, Hichilema said like George Floyd, a lot of Zambians had died at the hands of police.

“I must tell you that In our country, we have George Floyd, a number of George Floyd in Zambia. A student was killed at the University of Zambia by the police while she was sitting in her room, the police discharged tear gas canisters in her room and she died out of suffocation. Under the police, another youth killed and brutality executed by the police when she was exercising her right of freedom of assembly. All these are in the public domain. So these are the pattern by the party in office except that the region seems not to be aware of these negative issues happening, this is an affront to democracy in our country. We should not tolerate this, no leadership calling itself democratic and constitutional should actually act in the manner the Zambian government should act in. No one is being incited and no one needs to be incited. People must speak!” said Hichilema.