Shootings: Tensions flare-up in Zambia

2010-10-26 08:09

  • Chinese Culture
    Read all you need to know about the Chinese culture in this insightful title. Now R447.00
    buy now
Lusaka - Red lanterns frame neat Chinese signs over the stalls at Lusaka's Luburma discount market, packed with Zambian bargain-hunters looking for deals on clothes, food and an endless variety of plastic objects.

But the market's popularity belies the tensions between Zambians and the estimated 100 000 Chinese who have moved to the country over the last decade, especially after a shooting at a Chinese-run mine.

"It's like we are not in our country because Zambia has been given to Chinese," said Francis Kasonde, a high school graduate hawking music and plastic shoes in Luburma's corridors.

"You can't give the whole market to Chinese leaving out your nationals and claim to be a caring government," he said.

In a neighbourhood once dominated by ethnic Indian traders, the city of Lusaka in 2001 granted a 65-year lease to the China Hainan Zambia company to develop and manage Luburma market.

With 432 three-by-two-metre stalls and 121 shops of varying sizes, rentals are too steep for most Zambians, resulting in Chinese running most of the market.

Such long-standing frustrations have sharpened since two Chinese mine managers - Xiao Li Shan and Wu Jiu Hua of Collum coal mine - allegedly shot and injured 12 miners who were protesting against their working conditions on October 15.

Hot political issue

The two have been charged with attempted murder. The Chinese foreign ministry said the two had "mistakenly hurt several local workers", a stand that has done little to soothe the public outrage in Zambia.

Since Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the country in 2007, Chinese investment has soared to an estimated $6.1bn, mainly in the mining sector, creating jobs for nearly 15 000 Zambians. China is also building a new stadium in the Copperbelt town of Ndola.

Investment from China, as well as from India, helped Zambia weather the global financial crisis, but Beijing's growing role in the country has become a hot political issue.

While President Rupiah Banda has urged calm over the shooting incident, warning against creating an anti-Chinese "phobia", the main opposition leader Michael Sata has lashed out.

"Zambians should be the first ones to benefit from whatever is in their country and not Chinese," he told AFP.

"I am against them abusing our people, and that abuse can be seen through them occupying all the stalls" at Luburma, he said. "How can they take over the whole market and start selling things that Zambians can also sell. This is unacceptable and it has to change."

Sata is now so well known for his anti-Chinese rants that street vendors have taken to shouting "Sata Uyo" - meaning "There's Sata" - to scare Chinese passersby.

Zambians working for Chinese businesses often echo the complaints of the workers at Collum mine, saying their employers flout labour laws with impunity and offer measly wages.

Catherine Nyirenda, a 25-year-old widow and mother of three, works for a Chinese textile shop where she says she's not allowed a lunch break.

Larger problems

"My children have to go to school and I get as little as 200 000 kwacha ($43) a month. This is despite working from Monday to Saturday without eating and in a hot environment," Nyirenda said, in fluent English.

Michael Mwale works in a Chinese-run bakery, where he said his employer locks up the staff all day in an enclosure without ventilation.

"This is October and it's hot here and the man locks us up without any regard that this place might catch fire and we will all be dead," he said.

"This is dangerous and inhuman and we are risking our lives for only 350 000 kwacha," Mwale said.

Part of the problem is language. Few of the Chinese working in Zambia speak English or a local language, and none in the market could speak to a reporter.

But the shooting points to larger problems.

"There is no way Chinese should be allowed to get away with it," Mine Workers Union of Zambia president Rayford Mbulu told AFP.

"If it's a Zambian that has shot Chinese in China, I am sure by this time that the individual will be dead."

Read more on:    michael sata  |  rupiah banda  |  china  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SAICA Trainee Account

Cape Town CBD
Express Employment Services - Cape Town

Oracle PL/SQL Developer – R550K/R450K CTC

Western Cape
E-Merge IT Recruitment
R450 000 - R550 000 Per Year

Sales Executive

Western Cape
Cozens Recruitment Group ( Western Cape)
R20 000 - R25 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.