The Zambian government has denied selling a state-owned forestry company as the unease about the Asians' entrenchment in the economy came to the fore once again.
Police late Monday arrested over 100 people in a crackdown in the Copperbelt Province against rioters protesting the alleged sale of the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO).
“Police in Kitwe in the Copperbelt are running battles with saw millers and some residents of Buchi, Chimwemwe and Kawama townships," reported state TV.
The protesters were demanding answers from government, according to the local media.
The riots took place when President Edgar Lungu was on a “working visit” to the region to inspect the new Ndola International Airport, being constructed by the AVIC International, a Chinese firm.
But presidential spokesman Amos Chanda told reporters that: “The government is just in the process of listing ZAFFICO and 32 other companies under the Industrial Development Centre (IDC) (on the Lusaka Stock Exchange ) to enable them raise funds.”
The government has not sold any single company apart from repossessing some sold by previous administration such as state telecom ZAMTEL from Libya’s LapGreen, he said.
The government alleged that the Copperbelt Province riots were “xenophobic” in nature and being incited by the opposition groups.
State TV reported seeing Chinese nationals weeping after their shops were looted.
The furious protesters, who were stoning the police, blocked most of the main roads in Kitwe town.
The Zambian government recently denied entry to Kenyan law professor PLO Lumumba who was due to address a university on a Chinese topic.
President Lungu, on return to Lusaka, did not speak to reporters as he walked straight to his limousine after shaking hands with his Vice-President Inonge Wina and other officials.