LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambian President Rupiah Banda called for calm on Thursday after the shooting of 11 workers last week at a Chinese-run mine sparked broad condemnation of Chinese firms by unions and opposition parties.
Two Chinese mine managers from Collum Mine, about 325 km (200 miles) south of the capital Lusaka, have been arrested and charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting, which occured during a protest against poor pay and conditions.
Nine of the men who were shot are out of danger, but two were transferred to a hospital in Lusaka at the weekend for surgery.
The incident has led to a backlash against the Chinese, big investors in the southern African nation’s mining industry.
“Let us be careful that we do not single out people. Everyday people are shot by Zambians, whites and Americans ... we should not create a phobia,” Banda said.
“We as politicians should not politicise labour matters. The The country’s economy is growing (because) investors are coming from everywhere,” he added.
Chinese companies have not enjoyed an easy ride in Zambia, where staff, unions and opposition politicians frequently accuse them of abuses.
In 2005, five Zambians were shot and wounded by managers during pay riots at the Chinese-owned Chambishi mine in the northern Copperbelt Province.
Collum Mine supplies coal to mines in the Copperbelt and to Zambia’s largest cement producer, a unit of France’s Lafarge.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the world’s second biggest economy has always required Chinese companies to adhere to local laws and regulations.