ZAMBIA Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is saddened by Government’s action to give over 24,000 work permits to foreigners.
ZCTU general secretary Cosmas Mukuka told the Daily Nation that the law on work-permits for foreign nationals was clear and hoped that Government followed the laid down procedure.
Mr. Mukuka said the Zambian Government should explain the categories in which they have issued the work-permits to 13,000 Chinese nationals, 7,000 Indians and 4,000 South Africans.
He explained that Government could only issue a work permit to foreigners in situations where there were no local people who could handle such particular jobs, adding that it was only fair on the part of Government to explain the categories they issued work permits for the 24,000 expatriates.
And MMD youth national secretary Bowman Lusambo has urged Parliament to emulate their counterparts in Tanzania and enact a landmark law that would regulate foreigners getting jobs that could ordinarily be done by Zambians.
“The Non-Citizens Employment Regulation Bill which is expected to come into effect on 1 July after President Jakaya Kikwete assents to it is a piece of legislation the Zambian Parliament would do well to emulate,” said Mr. Lusambo.
Mr. Lusambo said President Edgar Lungu should treat the youth unemployment situation in Zambia as a crisis requiring serious practical steps to reverse.
“We are further shocked to learn through Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila in Parliament that the PF Government had at February 2015 issued over 13,000 work permits to Chinese nationals, 7,000 Indians and 4,000 South Africans. As concerned youths, we appeal to Government to quickly enact a law that will protect Zambian jobs from foreigners,” said Mr. Lusambo.
He said it was sad that a small country such as Zambia with a very small economy could allow over 25,000 foreigners to work there when over 80 percent of its citizens were unemployed.
“We question the criteria used by our Immigration Department in issuing these work permits. Chinese, Indians and Lebanese labourers coming into Zambia to push wheelbarrows, cook nshima in open air restaurants and work in car wash outlets do not pose any special skills different from what the Zambians have,” he said.
Mr. Lusambo urged President Lungu to direct the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the way the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Immigration was issuing permits.
“We can only suspect that there is corruption at the Immigration Department which allows for these high number of job permits to be issued.
We therefore call on the Anti-Corruption Commission to take a keen interest in the happenings at Kent Building (Immigration Department Headquarters) and screen all the work permits issued in the last six months,” he said.
“We believe there is nothing xenophobic about our demands as our position is firmly informed by the need to see our young people in employment.
“From the research we have done, almost all the developed countries including some of our neighbouring countries have stringent work permit procedures making it practically impossible for low skilled people to work in those regions,” said Mr. Lusambo.