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Zambia: Chinese companies accused of creating 'slave labour' conditions

Date: 25 Jan 2010

Michael Sata

The leader of Zambia's main opposition party, Michael Sata, has said that Chinese and other Asian mining companies are showing almost no consideration for worker safety or local culture. Mr Sata - who may become the new president in elections in 2011 - attacked current government policies that give special tax status to foreign investors.

According to a report by Reuters, Sata said that the Chinese and the Malaysian companies were welcome to operate in Zambia, but "when they come here, they should treat us like human beings".

He predicted a future backlash against Chinese companies that enjoyed special considerations when others struggled.

Chinese companies operating in Zambia, such as Chambishi Copper Smelter, disputed the claims that they were operating under slave conditions.

The comments are evidence of consequences now being felt in Africa of the influx of Chinese and other Asian companies into large parts of Africa. In areas where Western companies have avoided a largescale presence because of their unwillingness to deal with local endemic corruption, Chinese companies have made rapid inroads because they have been keener to embrace the development opportunities of the continent, seeing corruption as a price worth paying.

Sata said that sharply different cultures can still present significant problems for both the companies and the host countries.


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