Obey rules, Zambia's Sata tells China

2011-09-26 15:17
Lusaka - New Zambian President Michael Sata told Beijing on Monday he welcomed Chinese companies investing in Africa's biggest copper producer but only if they obeyed the law, especially by employing more Zambian workers.

In his first official appointment since being elected president on Friday , Sata met Chinese ambassador Zhou Yuxiao to dispel fears his sometimes fierce anti-Chinese rhetoric while in opposition would translate into a shift in investment policy.

However, he also made clear that Chinese companies that have so far ploughed more than $2bn into developing the mining sector in the southern African country would not be getting preferential treatment.

"We welcome your investment but as we welcome your investment, your investment should benefit Zambians and not the Chinese," Sata said.

"It is in law that all investors who are coming to Zambia should bring a limited number of expatriates whom they cannot find in Zambia. My party has taken concern at the unlimited number of people your investors are bringing to Zambia."

Zhou did not specifically address the foreign workers issue, telling a news conference Chinese investment was predicated on "win-win co-operation".

Even though China is a major player in the former British colony, its presence is not universally appreciated.

Miners frequently complain about poor pay and working conditions in Chinese-run mines in the Copper Belt, and in 2005 several miners were shot and wounded after complaining to management about their salaries.

Chinese building projects also employ many Chinese labourers to the disgruntlement of Zambian construction workers.

Non-Chinese mining companies in Zambia include London-listed Vedanta Resources , Canada's First Quantum Minerals and Swiss commodity giant Glencore's Mopani local unit.

First Quantum's share price has fallen 30% since the September 20 election, while Vedanta has shed 15%.

Read more on:    michael sata  |  zambia  |  china  |  southern africa

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