So, last week Monday, traders in Kabwe woke up and went to conduct their usual business at Kasanda Market. To their shock, they found some Chinese nationals taking measurements of their trading area, pointing fingers at some landmarks and nodding heads.
It turned out that these Chinese fellows had been hired by the local council to demolish Kasanda Market in the near future, in readiness for the construction of a K30 million modern market at the same location.
Unfortunately, this development was unknown to a majority, if not all the traders in Kabwe. Under normal circumstances, a project of such magnitude would have been advertised so that the people can appreciate the good intentions of their government. But this was not done. So, seeing these surveyors unsettled the residents because as far as they were concerned, this only meant one thing… going once, going twice, sold!!
Now, let’s pause there for a moment and think about this scenario. If these surveyors were German or even Egyptian, the traders were not going to panic in that manner. It is not exactly the action of taking measurements that unsettled them, but the sight of Chinese doing it.
Why is this so? It is because China has messed up its reputation in Zambia. Our all-weather friends have turned out to be our not worthy friends. A majority of the Chinese we see in Zambia today are not the Choncholese we fell in love with. These are parasites, leeches feeding off the poor hard-working people of Zambians.
We remember a time when Chinese were among the most cherished foreigners in this country. Zambians had a lot of admiration, respect and tolerance for our Choncholi brothers and sisters. But along the way, the MMD government opened the floodgates and a suffocating influx ensued. Chinese expatriates started arriving with their own plumbers, garden boys, concubines and labourers to push wheelbarrows at construction sites.
Just when we thought things could not get worse, the PF regime took over, promised to sort out the problem, but only succeeded in making it worse. Zambians today are no longer complaining about the Chinese taking their jobs, they are complaining about being physically-displaced. The Chinese are taking away their villages, townships, colleges and markets.
This is why we cannot blame the Kabwe traders for exhibiting panic. It’s a simple kneejerk reaction. You can’t sit idle when you see a Chinese man taking measurements of your plot. You have a good cause for worry. If you don’t act, you will wake up to find they have upgraded your house to three storeys under new ownership.
These Chinese have taken over the ruling party and State House. Government is making decisions that put the interests of the Chinese above those of the Zambian citizens. The Chinese we have in Zambia today are not tamed, and we agree with the observation of Mr Harry Kalaba.
“Chinese in themselves are not bad, they have helped this country to reach where we have reached, but the Chinese that are in Nigeria; the Chinese that are in Tanzania are tamed. But here, we have a leadership that has allowed the Chinese to run over us. Every business, every contract, everything is going to the Chinese! Where is the Zambian businessman? What we want is to see the situation as it stands in Kenya, in Kenya, they have promoted their own citizens, that is why you find billionaires in Kenya,” said Kalaba.
“But here, in this country, just some few days ago, you saw when the Minister of Education advertised that tender, three quarters of it was AVIC and we know who is the best friend of AVIC. The other one was Sun Share, we know who is the best friend of Sun Share. This cannot continue; AVIC doesn’t own this country! Even in our poverty we will speak, they might have billions, but this is our country and we will talk.”
In other words, the Chinese who are operating in Zambia don’t see the pain that the citizens are experiencing. They are happy to get all the business opportunities from the local people, grab all the land they admire and build their own communities. They don’t care how the people of Zambia feel.
Our concern is one. Why is the Chinese government turning a blind eye to this? Does it please the Chinese Embassy is Zambia to see all these scandals involving their nationals? Which area of crimes haven’t the Chinese explored? What is Beijing doing about the cries of the Zambian people?
We would like to warn our once all-weather friends to be very careful with this treatment of the Zambian citizens. Construction companies such as AVIC International should not be too comfortable with its relationship with the PF government because in politics, tables turn.
In 2011, when the PF removed the MMD from power, we saw the effects of a revolution. Those who went to bed with the Rupiah Banda regime found no safe place to hide in Zambia. Businesses were ransacked and property damaged. It’s not something we encourage, but that is how Zambians express their relief.
We know China is rich with adages, but we also have a few here in Zambia. A stubborn spider ended up building its nest in the barrel of a gun. Don’t say we never warned you.