(By Charles Tembo in Luanshya)
OVER 300 AVIC International workers constructing houses for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Zambia Correctional Facility in Luanshya have protested demanding better conditions of service and contracts. And Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili who addressed them says there is no President in the country and what is in State House is just a figurehead. Meanwhile, unruly PF youths on Saturday stormed Luanshya Copper Mines offices and threatened to beat Kambwili who was in a meeting also attended by State House special assistant for project implementation Andrew Chellah, mines minister Richard Musukwa, Copperbelt minister Japhen Mwakalombe, Luanshya district commissioner Joel Chibuye, and Luanshya Mayor Nathan Chanda.
The workers yesterday protested at Kambwili’s residence demanding that the lawmaker speaks for them.
“This company called AVIC is causing a lot of problems for us here. We are working with contracts and conditions that are so poor. What is the government doing to address this problem? If nothing is done, we will not go back for work. We want decent salaries for the work we are doing,” a worker complained.
“We are building government houses and we should be happy people knowing very well that government will take care of us. But what is happening is so sad; we are subjected to harsh conditions by these Chinese guys of AVIC. So today we are not working. We want someone to speak for us.”
While singing, the workers camped at Kambwili’s residence demanding that he addresses them. Addressed the protesters, Kambwili said it was uncalled for that the local people should be abused.
“You see these contracts are for the government. We are spending a lot of money, which is just going to China. If you look at the salaries of the workers, it’s sad. People are not benefiting. But you can’t blame the people. Just a few days ago the PF were celebrating in solidarity with the Chinese to abuse our people. This is a warning to the Zambian people that this is the government that you have,” he said.
Kambwili wondered why people could be accused of xenophobic attacks when one spoke against the evils of foreign investors.
“When you talk about these things, ati xenophobia; what is so xenophobic about talking for the people? Mistreating our people, we talk ati xenophobia,” he said.
Kambwili said there was no President in Zambia but a figurehead in State House. He said when a serious leadership takes over the presidency all the nonsense in the country would come to an end.
“If miners are sent out, who is to sort out this issue? It’s the President. That is why I say we do not have a President in this country. We only have a figurehead in this country. This country is on autopilot, wait until I become President, you will see leadership, tested leadership. All these Chinese, Indians nonsense will end because imbwili ni bwili,” Kambwili said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday PF cadres entered Lunshya Copper Mines boardroom and ordered that Kambwili leaves or they would manhandle him. The cadres insulted Kambwili in full view of Chellah, Musukwa, Mwakalombe, Chibuye and Chanda. Efforts by Musukwa to reason with the cadres were received with total resistance.
“Ba district, these are your people, please can we have order,” Musukwa told Luanshya District PF chairman, a Mr Siwale.
But Siwale said he had no control over the youths because they were from the province. Musukwa, police officers and other government officials, saved Kambwili from the cadres that were becoming uncompromising. Kambwili, who did not utter a word, was later seen being escorted out of the meeting and the mine offices. And management at LCM expressed shock at the turn of events.
“This is not what we expected. Mr Kambwili is a lawmaker and this mine is in his constituency. So the conduct of the cadres is unacceptable. That was a management meeting meant to address the challenges at the mine, so we expected the government officials to take charge and stop any misconduct of the cadres. How will we manage if cadres can be allowed in full view of the minister and State House official to do this?” a management source complained.
Management further complained that the conduct of the cadres was unfortunate because some of the issues and decisions that were to be addressed were raised by Kambwili.
The sources said the meeting wanted Kambwili’s issues to be tabled.