By Nhau Mangirazi.
Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has challenged the Government to come out clean on how Chinese are taking advantage of their political corrections to abuse local workers.
ZDAMWU secretary general Justice Chinhema said the latest incident at Redenne mine near Gweru is a major concern.He said since the invasion of the mining sector by the Chinese, incidents of beatings, harassment and ill-treatment of workers by armed employers are rife and what is more worrying is that these employers brags about their political connections.
Chinese mine manager identified as Zhang Xuelin has since been arrested for shooting two workers.However. Chinhema said, “Given this development, the union is warning all Chinese employers in the industry to desist forthwith from using colonial tactics and habits in handling labour disputes. We have learnt with shock the shooting of two mine employees by his Chinese employer at Reedem Mine in the Midlands province.
“It is unfortunate that the employees, Wendy Chikwaira and Kennedy Tachiona were shot and badly injured after they had approached their employer to demand their outstanding salary arrears after they were dismissed empty handed,” added Chinhema.
The latest incident comes barely a week after another Chinese employer pointed a gun to an employee at a mine in Zvishavane over a salary dispute, according to Union statement. Chinhema said the union condemns rampant acts in the strongest of terms especially the use of fire arms by mostly Chinese employers to settle labour disputes.
He added, “We have, for a long time tolerated these brutal actions by these so called ‘all weather friends’ against innocent workers and other peace loving citizens of this country and we have reached breaking point. The union has always believed that when disputes arise especially in the mining industry, the necessary procedures should be dealt with guided by the provision of the Labour Act and the Supreme law of the country, the Constitution.
“This attitude by the Chinese now requires our Zimbabwean government to raise the red flag and ensure that the culprits are either deported back to their country or alternatively face the full wrath of the law and severely punished as a deterrent measure.
“For a long time , the union has queried the Chinese’s sincerity as investors in this country as they have proven beyond doubt that besides mistreating their workers they are also certified looters and ‘bloody’ with very little of their investment benefiting the country explained Chinhema. ZDAMWU is on record attacking Government for treating Chinese with kid gloves while they are accused of abusing environmental and labor rights countryside.
Chinhema added, “It is unfortunate that our Government seems to treat these Chinese employers with kid gloves while other countries such as Zambia has deported those found to be ill-treating and abusing its citizens especially workers in their mining and construction sectors.
“We call upon our members to immediately alert the union of any form of ill-treatment especially when firearms are used to frighten workers by these callous and satanic Chinese employers,”
Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe issued statement that it is “highly concerned about the case in which a Chinese employee of a private Chinese company near Gweru shot and injured a local employee due to a wage dispute during the weekend. Although this is an isolated incident and the Embassy has no law enforcement authority over the enterprise, we firmly support Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agencies to transparently and openly investigate and handle the case in accordance with the law of Zimbabwe”