Kitwe residents riot over ZAFFICO ‘sale’
By Staff Reporter
Kitwe residents rioted on Monday morning after media reports over the weekend that the government was planning to sell Zambia Forest and Forestry Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) to a Chinese company.
Last week, ZAFFICO workers protested a government decision to list the company on the stock market and a possible take-over by the Chinese.
And when it was clear before the public that government was planning to sell one of the few remaining profit making parastatals, residents of Kitwe’s Kawama, Chimwemwe, Kwacha, Buchi, and Kamitondo compounds rioted.
The rioters protested the sell by stoning a Clinic in Twatasha compound and burning tyres on roads, among other things.
And confirming the incident, Copperbelt Province police commissioner Charity Katanga said the riots in fact started in the morning.
She said police had already picked up some rioters and detained them.
When asked for more details, Katanga promised to release a comprehensive report later in the day.
The angry residents denounced the government by chanting anti-Chinese slogans.
They further wondered why the government was selling everything to the Chinese.
‘’Ifili fyonse balefwaya ukushitisha kushitisha kuma Chinese. Bushe ninshi ebakulatuteka? (Whatever they [government] want to sell, they offer it to the Chinese. Are they the ones governing us?’’ asked one angered resident in a local language.
‘’Boss, what annoys us is why this government is treating these Chinese like kings. The Chinese are now controlling everything in this country; where is our independence?’’ another irate resident, Peter Shumba asked. ‘’We have suffered enough from this government; they have no regard for us. Come 2021 we are sending them away together with their Chinese friends.’’
According to a proposal in next year’s national budget, the government wants to list ZAFFICO shares on the Lusaka Stock Exchange, a move which sparked another riot last week from employees.
The Industrial Development Corporation refuted claims of such a sell.
Public relations manager Namakau Mukulebai only confirmed the listing of the firm.