Soon after Sata’s victory, China’s new ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao, was the first to pay Sata a congratulatory visit, and Chinese President Hu Jintao has issued Sata an invitation for a state visit to Beijing.
Investors won’t leave Zambia, says Lusaka-based economic consultant Bob Sichinga, because, frankly, the demand for copper and other minerals is great enough that mining companies have plenty of profit margin to spare.
“The Chinese and other investors will not leave because even when mineral royalty and other taxes are raised, the mines will still be making good profit,” Mr. Sichinga says. “Government has known that they are not receiving their fair share of mineral wealth. But the new government wants things to change so that Zambians will also benefit.”
The sudden pay raise at Chambishi Copper Mine is perhaps a belated effort for Chinese mine operators to burnish their image, an image that has been tarnished by abusive treatment and violence against Zambian employees.
In 2005, five Zambians were shot and wounded by managers during a riot of mineworkers at Chambishi Mine.
Five years later, Chambishi’s shootout was repeated five years later by another Chinese-owned company – Collum Coal Mine – when two Chinese managers at the mine shot and wounded 12 miners who were protesting against salary delays. The incident left two miners critically injured and the two managers arrested. But charges against the two managers were dropped when the mine management offered to compensate the injured miners.