Mineworkers unions in Zambia have condemned the shooting of 11 Collum Coal Mine workers in Sinazongwe by Chinese managers after they allegedly protested over bad conditions of service.
Saturday, October 16, Zambian police questioned two Chinese managers over shootings that had occurred the previous day wounding eleven mineworkers who have since been admitted at the Maamba General Hospital. Most of the victims were shot in the stomach, hands and legs.
Opposition leader, Michael Sata is on Sunday quoted saying the shooting incident had revealed that “Chinese investors were now above the law”.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Rayford Mbulu said it was unacceptable that investors could resort to shooting workers that were demanding what was rightfully due to them.
“The police should investigate and bring to book the suspects. We don’t care what investments people bring in the country. They should have sought dialogue with the workers or the unions. This is regrettable. What if a life was lost?” Mbulu is quoted asking.
“We can’t allow people to do anything they want because they have brought ‘funny money’ in this country” he added.
“Workers should be protected in this country. We want to be informed that these suspects have been brought to book. They should leave our country,” Mbulu charged. He said there were many investors that wanted to invest in the country but Zambians should never allow such behaviour from foreign investors.
The victims where identified as Simon Simwete, Abby Siameba, , Madinda Siamubotu and Wisdom Himukomba, Boston Munakaze, Wallen Muntanga, Humphrey Chimuka, Brighton Siamfuna, Boas Siapwaya, Vincent Chengela and Ward Chanaina.
Sata said the Chinese were supposed to be in custody pending investigations because the evidence was already there that they shot people.
“That’s the evidence. What more do they want? Why did they let people who were shot taken to the hospital and leave the Chinese? Are the Chinese above the law?” he asked.
He said his Patriotic Front party would demonstrate to the country how patriotic they were as the party would stand by the victims of the shooting.
“We know we can’t be protected by this government because it has been heavily corrupted by the Chinese for the 2011 elections and the current by-elections,” said Sata.
China’s involvement in Zambia dates back to the early 1970s, when China built a railway linking central Zambia to the nearest port city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
But in recent times, there has been a hostile response against Chinese involvement in Zambia’s mining industry largely fuelled by workplace accidents, concerns over poor working conditions and low pay at Chinese-run copper mines, and resentment over an influx of Chinese traders into the apparel industry.