Zambia’s copper mines hard-baked racism into the workplace by labelling whites ‘expats’

The creation of an 'expatriate' category for white employees in independent Zambia in the Copperbelt mines was explicitly a racial category, Duncan Money writes in a blog for The Conversation. All African employees were designated as 'local', even if they had been born in Malawi or Tanzania. All white employees were designated 'expatriates', even if they had been born on the Copperbelt. In the Copperbelt’s case, the category of expatriate recreated a dual wage structure, and one that persists. Expatriates received wages and benefits that no African employee could receive regardless of skill or experience. The companies hoped this would get around “aspirations” among African mineworkers for higher wages. Paradoxically, this meant that racial divisions were strengthened in some ways after Zambia became an independent country in 1964.

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Author(s) / editor(s)

Duncan Money

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Duncan Money is a historian of Central and Southern Africa during the 19th and 20th century. His research focuses primarily on the mining industry and, in particular, the Zambian Copperbelt.

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