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Zimbabwe: Workers exposed to Covid-19 as mining firm is alleged to have used unqualified personnel without protective equipment used to test for the virus

‘Chinese firm embroiled in COVID-19 testing storm’ 26 January 2021

A Chinese mining company, Afrochine Smelting has been embroiled in a COVID-19 testing scandal after it allegedly assigned unqualified personnel to carry out tests for the respiratory virus on its 600 workers. Workers at the Ngezi-based mining company told NewsDay that the administration manager, Angui Zhang Zong, gave an order to have the tests carried out at the company premises. They said workers from the safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) department, mainly students on attachment, were compelled to administer the tests despite lacking the professional know-how.

…“On January 18, the administration manager held a meeting with personnel in the SHEQ office, and ordered them to carry out COVID-19 tests on the 600 workers which were to commence the following day,” one of the workers said. “The wife of the administration manager, Mrs Xian Zhang, who is head of stores department, placed some COVID-19 IgM/IgG rapid test kits on the table and gave a demonstration. “The results of the demonstration came out negative. However, it is not known whether this Mrs Xian Zhang has a medical qualification, nor has been trained for COVID-19 treatment and management.”

…Chinese-run mining companies operating in Zimbabwe have been accused of rampant abuse of their workers. Last year, two workers at Chinese Rum Mine in Gweru were shot and wounded by their Chinese boss after they complained about outstanding wages. Contacted for comment, Gilbert Kwaramba, the Afrochine Smelting human resources manager referred NewsDay to Kufakunesu, who despite seeing the questions on his WhatsApp platform did not respond by the time of going to print yesterday.