Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Further to our previous posting , this is a follow up on-the-spot analysis of the Chinese effect on the Zambian working class by an African socialist .

The recent visit by the Chinese president Hu Jintao was hailed as a great economic milestone in the New Deal administration of MMD (Movement for Multiparty Democracy) president Levy Mwanawasa.

Toying with Marxist revolutionary political ideology is now a thing of the past in Africa—ever since the dawn of political pluralism and economic liberalism. Thus the phrase Chinese neo-colonialism may seem like a contradiction in terms in the sense that bilateral trade is feasible to Zambia’s economic development in the age of globalisation.

The People’s Republic of China has a long political and economic relationship with Zambia, dating back to 1964. The Chinese helped to train Zambia’s army officers and donated military armaments to the security forces. It was China that constructed the Tazara railway line from Zambia to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.

It is a fact that Chinese investment if various sectors of the domestic economy has not yielded positive results. More or less Chinese investors have brought the syndrome of labour casualisation in Zambia. Resentment against Chinese investors is very prominent on the Copperbelt and in Lusaka.

The Chinese president Hu Jintao held a press conference at which he said that China will open up a new economic zone in Kitwe (Chambishi copper mine) at an initial cost of $800,000,000 that will increase employment by 60,000. However the three-day visit to Zambia was cut short because of the planned demonstrations in Lusaka and Kitwe.

It is alleged that Chinese investors mistreat ordinary Zambian workers and that Chinese imported clothes, bicycles and electrical appliances are even substandard and poor quality. The ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) has spoken out strongly against the New Economic Zone by pointing out that Chinese investors pay low salaries and the incidence of accidents at workplaces.

But working class political struggles can only take place in societies where basic political and human freedoms are respected—that is the case in Zambia today. Press freedom is very vital to the intensification of working class political struggles.

The dream of abolishing taxes and chasing away Chinese investors is not a method of abolishing capitalism. It is a surest indication of political frustration and moral bankruptcy. Workers of Zambia unite, under the banner of international working class solidarity—Socialism.


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