Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 September 2008 – In an apparent policy shift designed to reassure foreign investors, Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata says he would welcome Chinese investors in the country’s mining industry if he was elected president.
Reuters reports from the Zambian capital that Patriotic Front leader Sata – who is contesting the November presidential election after the death of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa last month – said he would safeguard local and foreign investors’ interests.
“We will protect the Chinese investments in Zambia, we need their investments, we need their technology,” he said on state radio.
Sata narrowly lost to Mwanawasa in the 2006 Zambian national election. He had said at that time that he would expel Chinese investors he accused of exploiting Zambian workers.
The growing presence of Chinese firms in Zambia has prompted an anti-Chinese backlash in some parts of the country, whose economy is predominantly driven by copper mining.
China’s government and its state-controlled companies have invested billions of dollars in Africa to secure natural resources for the Asian giant’s growing economy, and to build Beijing’s political influence in the developing world.
In Zambia, Chinese companies have invested over US$500 million (R3.75 billion) in mining and other sectors over the last five years, Treasury data shows. It plans to invest a further US$900 million R6.75 billion) over the next five years in an economic free zone, where its companies will be exempted from some taxes such as customs duties.