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29 Sep 2022

Felix Matasva, New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Diamond & Allied Minerals Workers Union appeals to the Chinese embassy to intervene and ensure Chinese investors comply with the laws of the country

‘Chinese Miner in a Workers Ill-Treatment Storm’ 26 September 2022

A Chinese-run gold mining company operating in the Odzi peri-urban area of Mutare district has been accused of ill-treating workers and flouting the country's labour laws and regulations. Registered as Odzi Resources Zimbabwe Private Limited while trading as Ming Chang Sino Africa Investments, the company runs a number of gold mines across the country, including in Mashava, Mbalabala, Bulawayo, Kwekwe and Mazowe. A former worker who was recently fired by the Chinese employer after speaking out against abuse has claimed that rampant ill-treatment of workers at the Odzi mine.

"These people (Chinese) are ill-treating workers and are (incredibly) heartless," said Tatenda Chikwanha (25) who was employed as a truck driver. "I was sacked from work after we begged them to provide us with protective wear since they could not provide us with decent meals and accommodation whilst on duty." An excavator operator who declined to be identified fearing victimisation also raised alarm over poor working conditions. "Four days ago police details who are working in collusion with our Chinese employer came at the mine accusing workers of stealing fuel yet this was not true," he said. "Four workers were dismissed after they lodged complaints over abuse and the employer turned violent. "General hand workers are forced to work in the mine without any protective wear and they are exposed to hazardous chemicals. Our salaries are also not paid in time.

…Meanwhile, in a letter dated September 19, and seen by this publication, the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) appealed to the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe to intervene and ensure Chinese investors comply with the laws of the country. "His excellence, there has been an outcry on Chinese investors abusing workers and wilful and contemptuous disregard of Zimbabwean Labour laws," the union said. "In most cases, we heard defences in support of the Chinese community that these were isolated incidences. We therefore bring to your attention a specific situation prevailing at Ming Chang Sino Africa Pvt Ltd. ZDAMWU added: "Employees are dismissed simply because one falls sick, yet section 14 of the Zimbabwean Labour Act guarantees sick leave. "They are told to go home until they heal without a salary yet in Zimbabwe we have paid sick leave. For specific example, one Abishai Nhengo was dismissed yet he was visibly sick and had his medical documents to show for it. "We are, therefore, bringing to your attention these allegations so that you have a first-hand appreciation that the Chinese investors at Ming Chang Sino Africa are abusing workers and they do not pay due regard to Zimbabwean Laws. The allegations against these investors are not just a smear campaign."