Zimbabwe: Shooting incident at Chinese mining firm sparks outrage across the country

A shooting incident at a gold minefield in Gweru has sparked outrage in Zimbabwe. Video, audio and picture images of the shooting incident were widely circulated on social media. A dispute allegedly occurred over outstanding wages and working conditions at Reden Mine. The Chinese manager of a gold mine allegedly shot and injured two black ex-employees after a wage dispute escalated into a brawl on Sunday afternoon. Mining unions have urged the government to take decisive action whilst civil society groups have condemned the shooting incident, alleging that Chinese mining investors in many parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe, have exhibited a history of bad safety, health, environmental, labour and human rights standards. Poor working conditions at Chinese companies are an old problem that is increasing. 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.

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10 July 2020

Zimbabwe: Workers and lawyers association accuse Chinese mining firms of gross human rights violations and exploitation

Author: Nigeria Sun

“African workers upset over exploitation by Chinese mining firms”, 9 July 2020

… The recent incident of shooting of Zimbabwean workers by the Chinese mine owners, once again, has been dogged by controversy with gross human rights violations and safety norms for mining workers.

On July 1, a Zimbabwean rights group slammed Chinese-run mining companies of "rampant abuse" after two workers were shot and wounded, allegedly by their Chinese boss, after they complained about outstanding wages…

"The problem of ill-treatment of workers is systematic and widespread and what that shooting did was to expose the rampant abuse of workers. Wages are often very low and in many cases are not paid on time. If someone tries to exercise their right as a worker and demand what is due to them get assaulted or shot," Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) said in a statement.

Forced labour and torture in the diamond mining industry, and other mining activities are rampant in Chinese controlled mining firms…

In February, a group of local miners at a Matobo-based firm in Matabeleland South province complained of their firing from jobs by Chinese employers in a court. Workers accused their Chinese employer of gross human rights abuses ranging from beating and unfair dismissals…

… Last April, workers at another Chinese company in the same province complained of being underpaid and working without protective clothing. According to the watchdog, there are several cases of Chinese miners refusing to pay salaries or provide their workers with protective clothing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It has become a pattern and a system. We have cases where miners are abused, beaten and discriminated against by Chinese miners. Locals in some Chinese-owned mines often operate dangerous, harsh and life-threatening conditions, while being paid poorly," ZELA said…

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1 July 2020

Zimbabwe: Mining company seeks to compensate victims of shooting incident

Author: Pa Zimbabwe News

‘Mine owner reaches out, seeks to compensate shooting victims’ 27 June 2020

Reden Mining, the Chinese company whose manager Zhang Xuelin allegedly shot and injured two employees demanding salary review has reached out to the victims seeking to compensate them. The company says it regrets the incident which has been subject of fierce debate in the past few days. Together with the Chinese community in the country, they have been seeking to make amends with the families of the affected. Addressing the media in the capital yesterday, Reden Mine owner Mr Ming Chang Xing said they have made a breakthrough in conversations with one of the two victims.

…We have reached an agreement with the lady who was injured on the arm. We will be covering their medical costs and compensating her with money, we have since agreed on the amount,” Mr Ming said. They are reaching out to the other victim, who is heavily injured. “We are hoping to reach an agreement with our other employee who is still hospitalised. We are talking to his family and legal representatives,” said Mr Ming. He said the effort to reach out to families is not in any way connected to the court case and judicial processes should take place undisturbed. Mr David Zhou, leader of the Chinese business community in Zimbabwe who attended the briefing, said the incident should not be interpreted as a sign of how Chinese-Zimbabwe relations stand.

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30 June 2020

Zimbabwe: Shooting of local workers by Chinese mine owner shows "systematic and widespread" abuse, watchdog says

Author: CNN

“Shooting of Zimbabwe workers by Chinese mine owner shows 'systemic' abuse, watchdog says”, 29 June 2020

The shooting of two Zimbabwean workers by a Chinese boss shows the "systematic and widespread" abuse that locals face in Chinese mining operations, says the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Society (ZELA).

In a court affidavit, police said Zhang Xuen shot an employee five times and wounded another at the mine he runs in Gweru province, in central Zimbabwe, during a row with workers over outstanding pay.

Zhang has been charged with attempted murder, said Zimbabwe police spokesman Paul Nyathi…

… The wounded workers are being treated at a private hospital.

A video that many alleged to be of the incident has circulated on social media in Zimbabwe, provoking public anger and calls from a local watchdog for a re-evaluation of Chinese mining operations in the country.

The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe described the shooting as an isolated incident and said it was in support of an open and transparent probe by local authorities…

The Chinese Foreign Ministry told CNN: "Overall, Chinese companies in Zimbabwe have operated their businesses in accordance with local laws and regulations, and made positive contributions to Zimbabwe's economic and social development…

Both Chinese-run mines in the country and state mining operations have been dogged with allegations of human rights violations and poor safety measures for staff…

In a statement… ZELA said locals in some Chinese-owned mines often operate "dangerous, harsh, and life-threatening" conditions, while being paid poorly for their time.

Sunday's shooting is another reason for the government to rethink its political and economic engagements with China, the group said…

[Also referred to Tsignchan]

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24 June 2020

Zimbabwe: Chinese mining investors have exhibited a history of bad safety, environmental, labour and human rights standards; ZELA

Author: Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA)

‘ZELA Press Statement on the shooting of two miners at Reden Mine-Gweru’ 24 June 2020

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) condemns the shooting of two gold mine workers, Wendy Chikwaira and Kennedy Tachiona  by their Chinese Mine employer at Reden Mine in Gweru on the 21st of June 2020. Video, audio and picture images of the shooting incident were widely circulated on social media. A dispute allegedly occurred over outstanding wages and working conditions at Reden Mine. The mine owner is said to have shot the two at point blank range after they demanded their outstanding wages. Both workers sustained injuries, with one shot on the chin while the other who was shot in the leg and thigh remains in hospital.

… To us, this incident is part of a systematic and widespread pattern of labour rights violations by Chinese companies and investors in the extractive sector. In many parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe, Chinese mining investors have exhibited a history of bad safety, health, environmental, labour and human rights standards. Poor working conditions at Chinese companies are an old problem that is increasing. Mine workers at Chinese mines often work in very dangerous, harsh and life-threatening environments. Despite the hard work and toil, the workers share little of the profits made by the mine owners in wages, social protection and other benefits. A 2012 study by South Africa Resource Watch which investigated Chinese labor practices in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo revealed that Chinese companies have engaged in widespread labor abuses and have subjected local employees in the mining industry to harsh and unfair working conditions.

… From a safety and health perspective, many Chinese companies have appalling housing and sanitation facilities. Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is often intermittent while medical check-ups for workers as prescribed by the law are erratic or non-existent. As a result, workers are often exposed to disease causing environmental, safety and health elements such as noise, dust and hazardous chemicals and substances. Mine accidents are also commonplace. From an environmental perspective, many Chinese companies start operations without conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) to identify and address any potential negative environmental and social impacts of mining operations on communities and workers as required by the law.

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24 June 2020

Zimbabwe: Unions calls on Chinese mining firms to desist from using “colonial tactics & habits” in labour disputes after shooting incident

Author: New Zimbabwe

‘Govt called to take decisive action on abusive Chinese employers’ 23 June 2020

ZIMBABWE Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) secretary general Justice Chinhema has called on government to deport Chinese employers caught abusing their Zimbabwean employees. This follows an incident in which a Chinese mine boss in Gweru shot and injured two employees following a stand-off over wages. “The 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,” Chinhema said in a statement.

“This comes barely a week after another Chinese employer pointed a gun at an employee at a mine in Zvishavane over a salary dispute and the union condemns these rampant acts in the strongest of terms, especially the use of fire arms by mostly Chinese employers to settle labour disputes. “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 brag about their political connections,” Chinhema said. The veteran trade unionist warned all Chinese employers in the extractive sector to desist from using “colonial tactics and habits” in handling labour disputes.

… The union boss said his organisation was in consultation with its membership to try and forge a collective front against continued abuses by Chinese employers countrywide. He expressed dismay the Zimbabwean government was reluctant to stamp its foot and call Chinese employers to order. Chinhema cited neighbouring Zambia which has deported those found ill-treating and abusing its citizens especially workers in their mining and construction sectors.

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