In his inaugural speech Friday, new Zambian President Michael Sata warmed mining companies operating in the country that they must obey labor laws. Sata has been a strong opponent to Chinese investment in Zambia—Africa’s largest copper miner—but says the two countries will continue to maintain ties.
In previous campaigns, Sata has proposed to acquire a 25 percent stake in all mining ventures on Zambian soil. It is Zambia’s mining and agricultural sectors that have boosted the nation to the status of a middle-income country in July of this year.
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However, Sata has criticized the salaries at Chinese-owned copper mines, equating them to “slave wages,” threatening to deport Chinese investors and sever diplomatic ties with China. On the one hand, China has brought in billions of dollars worth of investment to Zambia, and is a major reason the country has improved its economy. On the other hand, China has sidestepped the country’s labor laws and fostered political corruption in the sector.
Analysts claim that Sata’s win will likely increase resource nationalism in Zambia, which may cut into profits for big name firms operating there, such as Vedanta Resources PLC, Glencore International PLC, and Barrick Gold Corp.