WE regret the Zambia Police Service’s decision to reverse its earlier progressive resolution to enlist eight Chinese nationals in the police reserve wing.
On Monday, Zambia Police enlisted eight Chinese in various ranks but this sparked debate among social commentators as people took to social media and radio stations to speak about the issue, with some claiming this was bad as it would compromise State security.
In future, we want authorities to stick to their guns by not bowing to pressure from social media and misguided elements, the latter who rarely make decisions based on informed advice.
We say this knowing that police reserves are not full-time police officers since the former just help in policing our communities.
There is also a good precedence set in this country when reserves of Indian origin were engaged to police our crime-ridden communities.
The coming of the Chinese in the country has brought with it new challenges in terms of policing of the oriental nationals, and we feel this can be done by Chinese reserves considering the language and cultural barriers.
It is thus regrettable for authorities to ignore these factors since whether we like it or not the Chinese will always be part of our history.
We say this knowing that China was among the first countries to sign bilateral ties with Zambia shortly after we got independence and thus we should respect the China-Zambia all-weather friendship since it was founded by the older generation of leaderships of our two countries.
Zambian support for the restoration of China’s seat at the United Nations in 1971 and China building and financing the TAZARA railway are some of indicators of this friendship.
Some of the investments are at the cutting edge of economic development in Zambia, and for the Chinese economic relations in Africa and here we can cite the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, a special economic zone in the Copperbelt Province developed by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group (CNMC) which has received more than US$950 million in accumulated investment.
However, this is not to say there are no sandpapery issues between this relationship.
The perception and reality of the use of Chinese workers, Chinese competition with small businesses and Chinese labour practices have somehow strained the friendship.
We say this since Chinese workers are still visible in the mines, factories and construction sites though the Chinese government’s stated policy is to abide by local laws and emphasise to Chinese companies the need to create local employment.
However, while some of the Chinese companies operating in Zambia are large State-owned entities, it is harder for the Chinese government to control the operations of the plethora of small private enterprises that have sprung up.
Fortunately, the Zambian and Chinese governments are aware of the troubles in their relationship since there is evidence that the Zambian Government is trying to balance its desire for Chinese investment, expertise and infrastructure with its citizens’ desires for fair competition and decent wages and working conditions.
Likewise, the Chinese government wants to receive a good return on its investments but understands that criticisms of some practices could undermine the long-term Chinese presence in the country.
The Zambian-Chinese friendship is becoming more complicated as it shifts from State-to-State to person-to-person.
On the social front, the coming of the Chinese has spawned several concerns like crime which needs attention from both parties.
And we strongly feel one of the interventions is engaging the Chinese police reserves.
We feel this decision should have been boldly enforced with no apologies, especially to the social media charlatans.