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Zimbabwe: ZELA decries poor working conditions in mining & agriculture sectors, including child labour

‘ZELA Laments Mining Workers’ Dire Working Conditions’ 3 May 2019

In its Workers’ Day statement, ZELA (Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association) said most mine workers were at risk of fatal accidents, citing the recent Battlefields mine disaster, where over 20 artisanal miners died in a mineshaft. The environmental lawyers also cited cases of child labour, saying they were rampant in the farming sector. Most mining and agriculture sector workers are among the least-paid despite working under hazardous conditions that threaten their lives and health, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) has said.

Recently, companies like Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum and Caledonia Mining Corporation awarded an 80% wage increase to their workers, which saw their salaries rising from a minimum wage of ZWL$262,32 to ZWL$468,58. “Zela particularly bemoans the state of workers in the mining and agriculture sectors, which are our programming areas. Despite having one of the best Constitutions, the state of workers in Zimbabwe is disheartening and workers in the mining industry are currently the lowest paid despite the fact that this is an industry that is labour intensive and is highly risky and hazardous to health,” Zela said.

…Several mining and agriculture industry workers are, therefore, living below the poverty datum line, which flies in the face of United Nations principles.” Zela said some of the challenges that the mining and agriculture sector workers faced included non-payment of salaries, underpayment and unlawful dismissals… “Furthermore, Zela is concerned about child labour practices in the country, especially in the mining and agriculture industry. This situation should not be allowed to prevail because our Constitution provides for the protection of children’s rights and particularly condemns child labour.” The government should implement and enforce labour laws to improve the rights of all workers, as well as to put in place legislative, judiciary and administrative and policy measures, Zela further noted.