ZELA cold blow sends Chinese mine packing

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CHIEDZA MAKURUMURE in Gweru

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association pressure on the contact of Chinese companies operating in Zimbabwe has been credited as the death knell that led to the subsequent closure of Reden Gold Mine in Gweru.

Reden Gold Mine closed down operations after the gruesome shootings that happened on 21st of June 2020,where its General manager Zhang Xuilen shot and injured two employees in a wage dispute.

The company then decided to stop operations sending its staff on a forced leave.

It was however alleged that the labour relations crisis that emanated from the shootings were behind cease of operations.

But further investigations have revealed that ZELA has a hand in closure of the mine, after its pressure to the government on the contact of Chinese companies operating in the country.

According to Zela poor working conditions that characterize most Chinese companies especially in the extractive sector in the country and the southern  Africa region as a whole.

In a press statement issued on the 24th of June, ZELA expressed concern over low wages, unconventional recruitment policies, discrimination, victimization, unfair dismissals amongst a host of other unfair working conditions.

The association alluded that Chinese mining investors have exhibited a history of bad safety, health, environmental, labor and human rights in Southern.

‘Mine workers at Chinese mines often in very dangerous, harsh and life- threatening environments”,

“Despite the hard work and toil the workers share little of the profits made by the owners in wages, social protection and other benefits”read the statement.

ZELA said researches done across several mining companies that are Chinese owned in the Southern Africa unearthed the rot.

In its 2012 and 2015 research findings revealed that Chinese labor practices in Zimbabwe, Zambia and The Democratic Republic of Congo were mostly abusive, subjecting local employees in the mining sector to harsh and unfair labor conditions.

Another report made by ZELA noted that most workers in these Chinese Companies were highly if not critically exposed to the contracting and spreading of the corona virus due to these poor working conditions especially at Anjin Diamond Mine, Zimberly Investment Hwange, sunrise Chiliota, Dingmao and Longrui.

“The main safety and health concerns included lack of adequate personal protective equipment, poor accommodation and transport facilities that did not provide room for the practice of social distancing, limited access to adequate and safe water and other sanitation facilities such as toilets”,

“Workers are provided with substandard gloves, masks, safety shoes and work suits.’

ZELA urged the government to rethink and reimagine its political and economic engagements with the Chinese citing that they were taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s desperation for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to commit criminal acts and disregard of labor laws.

It also expressed concern over interactions between the Chinese and the government as little or no attention seems to be paid on their taxes, royalties and gold production levels and contributions to the fiscus.

The call came after the Reden Mine incident were two gold mine workers Wendy Chakwaira and Kennedy Tachiona were shot by their Chinese employ after a dispute arose between them over outstanding wages and working conditions.