The Nigerian government is said to be unhappy that the Zambian government has again attacked its ‘interests’ in Zambia.
Sources in the Zambian ministry of Foreign Affairs say Abuja finds the allegations by labour minister Fackson Shamenda that Dangonte cement, a Nigerian company, tried to bribe him as the continuation of the harassment of Nigerian citizens by the PF government.
According to sources, the Nigerian government is likely to summon whoever is representing Zambia in that country to explain what is going on and to express Nigeria’s protest at the harassment of its citizens in Zambia.
Last weekend, Shamenda threatened to have Dangote Industries human resource manager Bala Zango arrested for allegedly attempting to bribe him.
Shamenda, in the company of Labour Commissioner Cecilia Kamanga and Zambia Congress of Trade Union vice-president Nkole Chishimba, on Saturday met management at Ndola’s Dangote Industries, where he claimed that one of the managers there offered him a bribe in an effort to get away with a number of labour concerns he (Shamenda) had addressed with the company.
“May I take this opportunity to warn Dangote and all other investors in the country to avoid enticing government officials with bribes because it hinders progress. Unfortunately, your human resource manager is not here. He followed me to Lusaka to bribe me. He said he wanted to appreciate me; but for what? He said it was tradition that I be appreciated. In fact, he did well to leave for Nigeria, his country, and tell him never to return because I will have him arrested at the airport. Let me warn you that underhand methods of bribing government officials are illegal,’’ he warned. “Operate according to specification and don’t flout labour laws. I even wonder why some senior citizens keep saying investors are doing us a favour by employing the locals]. It’s not a favour because they too are making profits out of the labour they get, so Zambians should not be exploited in the name of employment. They have a right to work in their country,” Shamenda said.
But sources at the foreign affairs ministry say this statement by Shamenda has angered the Nigerian government.
One source said Abuja (Nigerian government) has queried the Zambian government why a senior minister Shamenda did not report the alleged corruption to the police instead of scandalising the whole Dangote investment in the international media.
‘As you know the relationship between Zambia and Nigeria has never been good from the time president Michael Sata came in power, so Nigeria views any issues involving government and Nigerian citizens with suspicion,’ said one source.
Another source said Shamenda has just been paid by Dangote competitors to scandalise the Nigerian investor.
Dangote itself has already dismissed Shamenda’ statement as malicious lies as the PF minister met the said Dangote junior employee in his personal capacity.
Moreover, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has also questioned Shamenda on whether he complied with the provisions of Anti-Corruption Act No.3 of 2012 when he rejected a bribe from a former employee of Dangote Cement.
TIZ Executive Director Goodwell Lungu said Shamenda should publicly state whether he specifically complied with section 39 Subsection 1 which requires that a public officer to whom any gratification is corruptly given, promised or offered shall make a full report of the circumstances of the case to an officer of the Ant-Corruption Commission (ACC) or a Police officer within twenty-four hours of the occurrence of the event.
The source at the ministry says that the continued anti-Nigerian policy by the Zambian government may one day lead Nigeria hitting back.
So far, the current Zambian government has deported a number of Nigerians for no proper reasons and has even stiffened visa laws for Nigerians traveling to Zambia. The new law requires that even for just passing through, Nigerians should apply for transit visas from Zambian Missions abroad.
Among the first Nigerians to be deported was Winners chapel pastor, managing director of Access Bank and the Managing Director of Chilanga cement followed by many more ordinary Nigerians based in Zambia.
Nigeria in turn has been refusing to accept envoys from Zambia.