Over 10 Chinese labourers have been arrested for illegal stay and working without permits from an illegal mine based at China Jiangsu International Corporation Limited in Shantumbu.
On Friday, a combined team of Zambia Police and Immigration Department officials invaded the illegal mine in Shantumbu area where the Chinese firm is quarrying and producing stone aggregates and other minerals without a mining licence and an environmental protection certificate.
The raid too place at mid-day on Friday but investigations showed that some of the illegal Chinese labourers scampered and went into hiding when their peers were nabbed.
A visit at the mine soon after the raid found all the mining equipment such as the converyor belts, trucks and tippers had been switched off and all mining operations were temporarily suspended.
There was only a handful of Zambian workers who complained bitterly against the abuse of local labour, poor working conditions, low salaries and the influx of migrant Chinese labourers from the far-east.
During their time in the opposition, the Patrotic Front (PF) loathed the Chinese and promised Zambians to stop the importation of labour from China and to deal with the wanton abuse of Zambian labour by the Chinese.
Michael Sata spoke passionately about correctly the wrongs being perpetuated by the Chinese, but he has suddenly U-turned on his promises because he is fondly supporting the Chinese in Zambia now. Recently, Michael Sata said anyone who wanted to hard the Chinese in Zambia must first deal with him, but this statement has angered many Zambians who believed that the republican president was a deceitful character.
On the raid in Shantumbu, the Immigration department public relations officer Namati Nshinka could not give full details immediately, but some officers who conducted the raid confirmed having arrested the illegal Chinese labourers.
“We have arrested a number of Chinese nationals who have no papers to stay in Zambia and they also have no work permits. We were acting on a tip off from members of the public and the numerous complaints from concerned residents of Shantumbu,” one of the arresting officers said. The Zambian workers interviewed said it was a habit for Chinese managers at China Jinagsu International Corporation to import labourers from China to come to the mine where they performed simple tasks that ought to be reserved for local people.
“The Chinese boss here is called Sam. He works with a Mr George Mwamba and they are the ones who organize everything for the Chinese labourers to come and work here. Priority is given to the Chinese and not Zambians. We are suffering and we are appealing to the government to intervene because the jobs being created here are not for Zambians. They are for Chinese and why should Chinese nationals come all the way from their country to come and work in Zambia as guards and wheelburrow pushers,” John Kasembe, one of the workers said.
He alleged that the traditional leadership had opted to favour the Chinese instead of listening to the local people because the Chinese were fond of bribing the headmen for them to place a blind eye on the illegalities.