Call for independent probe on extractive sector relations

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By Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT should set up an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate relations between extractive industries, their employees and host communities, an environmental rights watchdog said.

Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CRNG) said the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) should also investigate rampant human rights abuses within the extractive sector.

The call by CNRG follows the shooting of two workers by a Chinese gold miner a week ago on the outskirts of Gweru.

Zheng Xueun (41) allegedly shot and injured Wendy Chikwaira and Kennedy Tachiona during a wage dispute.

“The shooting incident exposes the extent of human rights abuse and unfair labour practices in the extractive sector in Zimbabwe.

“The escalating human rights abuses are against the business and human rights guiding principles which implore states to protect workers against human rights, and offer greater access by victims to effective remedies,” said CNRG in a statement.

The rights group said it was concerned with the silence by government on numerous human rights abuses and unfair labour practices involving Chinese businesses over the past decades.

“”Linked to many other reports of outright racism by Chinese nationals against Zimbabweans, including the striking of a diamond worker with a hammer on the forehead in Marange, this incident must mark a turning point where never again must these abuses be experienced by Zimbabweans in their own country,”said CNRG.

“This incident marks a turning point where never again must there be abuses experienced by Zimbabweans in their own country,” said the environmental watchdog.

The group said the incident also attested to the national outcry concerning corporate impunity enjoyed by Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe with government turning a blind eye.

“The fact that no senior government official has been courageous enough to address media in the misuse of the firearm by foreign nationals on citizens is a national disgrace,” said CNRG.

The group recommended government should cancel the firearm certificate used by the miner for “knowingly and without lawful cause, discharge a firearm in the public place”.

CNRG also said mine workers’ unions should enter into synergies with civil society organisations and facilitate capacity building on business and human rights for their members.

The group also implored government to reserve small scale mining for locals, adding that there was need to review the existing labour laws, remuneration and working conditions and ensure punitive measures for mining companies that do not adhere to business and human rights principles.

“The Judicial Service Commission should review judgments passed against captains of industry that abuse the rights of workers and communities,” CNRG said.