Zambia: Mass Unemployment, Super-Exploitation and Legalized Slave Labour, Who is Profiting?


By Mainda Simataa | ELA General Secretary | 29.11.17 | Lusaka, Zambia,





Zambia: Home of Super-exploitation and Super-profits for Capitalist Corporations


Everywhere around the world, the wealth of the rich is built on the tears, suffering and sorrow of exploited workers; and Zambia is no exception, but rather, here it is the norm; Zambia is the home of such wanton and runaway workers’ injustice and labour malpractices, and every foreign investor knows this, and is tantalized by the prospects of super profits in a super low-wage country of 12 million stranded and desperate-for-work youths! The Zambian worker is now the slave of the foreign capitalist exploiters/employers – the Indians, Chinese, Lebanese, and of course, the traditional imperialist western exploiters – the United States and United Kingdom: all have profited, and continue to profit from the suffering, tears, sweat and blood of the exploited Zambian workers!


Chronic Unemployment has reached a Terminal Stage in Zambia


Zambia has thus achieved the notoriety of having one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, not to mention being one of the hungriest and most corrupt nations on the surface of the earth. Eight out of every ten Zambians (educated or not) is unemployed – which translates to a shocking unemployment rate of over 80%; a fact which the Zambian Central Statistical Office (CSO) denies, and even downplayed in its most recent shameless scandalous October report on the current rate of unemployment. What can be said for sure is that the unemployment rate in Zambia has now passed from the alarming stage, to the fatal stage – a stage at which the crisis is bound to explode into a youth revolt, if not addressed immediately!


A Glimpse of Trained Teacher Unemployment


Teacher Unemployment: Only 3,000 picked out of 76,000 on the Waiting list!


Unemployment does not even spare the educated and rapidly rising tide of fresh graduates coming out of the numerous proliferation of colleges and universities. A mere look at the number of trained teachers currently marooned on the waiting list this year (2017) – awaiting recruitment and deployed by the government, tells the sad and alarming tale of the levels of unemployment especially amongst Zambia’s youths who consist over 75% of the 17 million population!


Out of the 76,000 trained teachers awaiting recruitment and deployment in 2017, only 3,000 were recruited; leaving a horde of 73,000 teachers on the pending list; and the pending list is growing longer every day with new droves of teachers graduating from colleges by the thousands!


More Workers Chasing Few Jobs – Slavery for the Desperate Jobless Youths!


The unemployment situation is however far much worse for the youths who are not in the readily- recruitable and in-demand service sectors such as health and education. For the rest who cannot even afford a college, and are left in the cold, the only option is to find a job in the private sector, no matter how exploitative and dehumanizing, and hope for the best! And even the capitalist driven private sector, just like the public sector; are unable to create enough jobs to absorb the ever rising numbers of the unemployed being thrown on the streets from schools, and others coming in from the rural areas to try their luck at a job in the already over-crowded cities and towns. Approximately 250,000 school leavers join the ranks of the unemployed every year; and they inevitably join the ranks of the desperate unemployed, or go into college for a few years and inevitably join the long winding que of the jobless at the back-end! The unemployment situation is catastrophic to say the least, and equally desperate, both for the qualified, and unskilled!


Capitalists Profiting from Industrial Reserve Army: Of Slave workers and Slave Wages!


The term Industrial Reserve Army was coined by Karl Marx and Engels in reference to the massive population of the unemployed who go into cities to look for work, but can find none. Inevitably, for the capitalist employers, such a desperate unemployed work-force act as a reserve pool of cheap and disposable workers from which they can pick a few whom they can exploit to the maximum, while paying them close to nothing, or slave wages; simply because there are many reserve workers ‘out there’ waiting and willing to take the place of those who complain against slave wages and conditions, and are willing to work for even much less!


Such is the scenario that is playing out every day in what is now the Zambian slave labour market, as millions of youths are now ’employed’ under impermanent jobs, and earning miserable slave wages. This great wage exploitation is the basis of capitalist profit – surplus value. Less for the workers means more for the capitalist employer; and in a factory or task where ten or more workers are supposed to be employed, the capitalist employs only two men, and makes the two work the job of 10 men; and afterwards, pays the two workers the wage of one man!


The capitalist employer thus makes super-profits by pocketing the wages of 9 men plus his own established margin of profit!!! This is the nature of super-exploitation being suffered by Zambian workers everyday, of which our women – the maids who work for foreign exploiters in Zambia are the worst ill-paid and ill-treated! But of course, the exploiters have the blessing of the government, a government that has veritably sold an entire generation into slavery, and is profiting from the suffering of its exploited people!


Govt and Ministry of Labour – Puppets and Beneficiaries of the Capitalist Corporations!


Labour laws in Zambia exist, but by and large, they are out-of-date and nothing more than paper proclamations! Furthermore, no capitalist employer ever adheres to labour law; instead, they break and bend the law with impunity knowing well that no government official or Ministry of labour bureaucrat is bold enough to bite the ‘paymasters’ in discharging his duty in enforcing whatever little is left of Zambian labour laws. The law for the protection and promotion of workers is thus a mockery! It is disregarded and abrogated daily with impunity! In fact, political leaders, starting from the President and leader of the present Patriotic Front regime, right down to the lowest low-life in the Ministry of labour, are all corrupt and in the pay of big capitalist corporations who have not only bashed, banished and banned trade unions and worker activism in their industries, factories and offices; but they have purposefully paralyzed the function of Labour law through bribery, concession buying, and threats of mass unemployment if they are touched; all this to ensure workers are left all alone and at their mercy, without any recourse to the union, court of law, or labour office, should they have a grievance.


In Zambia, It is Legal to Pay a Worker Slave Wages!


A look at the present minimum wage law today (2017) shows that it is ‘legal’ for a worker to be paid slave wages. Low income workers earn about 50 US dollars per month (Kwacha 500), and this is so the reality for maids of rich foreigners; when in reality the cost of living just on food and groceries alone, shows that a family of three must spend nothing less than US 500 dollars (Kwacha 5000) to survive for a month! The government has flatly refused to revise this government approved wage; and worse, they dare not enforce this pathetic minimum wage law even when workers are hit below the belt and paid less.


Only recently in November, and after much criticism, or was it out of shame, did the corrupt Minister of Labour, and disgraceful former unionist, Joyce Nonde, announce  that the Ministry of labour would consider a sector-by-sector minimum wage revision. This too, is mere horse-shit coming out of a labour bureau notorious for siding with employers and exploiters on any given day and any given issue! They are silenced by corrupt bribes they receive from the capitalist sector which is represented on the labour board by the so called Association of Employers (AE).


The struggle for workers’ rights thus remains a real fight that must be waged against capitalist and government, on many fronts, and by all affected, especially the unemployed and exploited workers. Workers are not Slaves! They are humans!


Abash Worker Exploitation!


Abash Capitalism!


Power to the Workers!


For More Jobs, and a Just Living Wage for all Working Zambians!