In a statement released yesterday by the Zambian High Commission to South Africa, the Zambian government has suspended the extension of conditional work permits for expatriates until the system was reorganised to eliminate abuse.
Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Stephen Kampyongo has said that he has given directives that all extensions for the conditional two-year period work permits given to expatriates, who were brought in by investors to train Zambians, be halted.
Mr. Kampyongo has said that the process had been abused with Zambians colluding with investors and allowing expatriates to continue extending their permits beyond the two-year period without vacating the position to allow local understudies to take over.
A committee has since been established to reorganise the process and ensure that the abuse, which he said had been rife, was eradicated.
Mr. Kampyongo said the measure was meant to increase the availability of employment opportunities and empower Zambians who were able to take-up positions that had been unduly awarded to expatriates.
Mr. Kampyongo made the announcement at the High Commission of Zambia in Pretoria when he addressed diplomatic staff.
According to Mr. Kampyongo, the renewal of work permits for expatriates would remain suspended while a framework that would benefit Zambians was being devised.
The Minister has affirmed that he was determined to ensure that the decision was observed and to ensure that there were no more excuses from companies to have their expatriates handover positions to their understudies after the conditional period expired.
Mr Kampyongo said he has had prior consultative meetings with various stakeholders in order to ensure the success of the new measure. He said the suspension was already in place and his officers were expected to enforce it.
“For me, it will no longer be business as usual. We have talked about empowering Zambians for a long time and it’s now time we were practical. We must walk the talk.
It is so unfortunate that we’ve had some Zambians colluding with investors and in the process disadvantaging skilled Zambians. I have no time for chief executive officers who will think of coming to the Ministry in the hope of beating the system.”
“It’s a shame to see the kind of people that come to our offices and claim they are expatriates. It’s like Zambians are declaring themselves as substandard,” Mr Kampyongo said.
The Minister has also announced that President Edgar Lungu has constituted a new Citizenship Board which will immediately start looking at processing of applications for dual citizenship.
Mr. Kampyongo said following inclusion of the Dual Citizenship clause in the new Republican Constitution, appropriate amendments have been made to the Act governing this provision so that it could be operationalised while procedures were being worked on. A Statutory Instrument to this effect will be issued in the coming weeks.
Mr. Kampyongo said priority would be given to Zambians who had lost their citizenship by virtue of acquiring citizenship of other countries through various ways such as marriage or birth.
“We are now set to start looking at applications and have come up with procedures for this process which we will share with all our Mission abroad as well as other stakeholders.”
The Minister further announced that Government has introduced a new digitalised issuance system of national registration card (NRC) which it was piloting in Lusaka, Chongwe, Kafue and Chilanga districts.
The new system requires NRC applicants to input their biometric data which would be stored at a central computerised location.
He said the aim was to turn the National Registration Office into a reserviour and a national data collection centre which will take stock of all citizens’ statistics.
The new system once fully implemented will help deal with weak security features on various Zambian identity documents.
Mr. Kampyongo said the exercise, which is being supported by the United Nations in terms of implementation, had lagged behind as it had to be suspended during the last national elections in order to avoid suspicion. He said the process was back on course and progressing well.
He also announced that Zambia and Zimbabwe have adopted the common visa, known as the Kaza UNIVISA, which allows tourists to travel within Zambia and Zimbabwe with a single document, which can acquired for US$50.
Mr. Kampyongo said the Kaza UNIVISA project had been piloted prior to introduction and the two countries were satisfied that this was one of the tools through which tourism could be marketed.
The minister also took a swipe at management for Mazhandu Bus Services for exhibiting lack of seriousness in observing safety measures. He said this was evident from the fact that the company has experienced a lot of road traffic accidents in the last few months when other transporters such as Euro Bus Services, which has been in operation for a longer period, have had far less incidences.
Mr. Kampyongo said he made contact with President Lungu while he was in Ethiopia for the African Union summit and that the President was furious about the latest accident involving the Mazhandu bus.
Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba commended Mr. Kampyongo for finding time to brief staff on policy developments in his ministry. Mr. Mwamba said there have been a lot of immigration issues affecting Zambians in South Africa and that the meeting with diplomatic staff was timely.
HIGH COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA IN SOUTH AFRICA