By Staff Reporter
THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is investigating Chinese mining company, Fools Investment Mine in Hope Fountain and other mines owned by the Asian nationals for alleged ill-treatment of their Zimbabwean employees.
This is after local civil society groups petitioned the independent commissions to probe the abuses.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) and 13 other civic organisations petitioned the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission demanding an immediate probe on the entire mining sector especially at mines owned by the Chinese where violence against workers is reportedly rife.
The petition came after a Chinese miner, Zhong Yi Zhang at the Fools Investment mine allegedly assaulted two employees Costan Mhasa and Tatenda Mangena after they demanded their dues backdated to July last year.
Yi Zhang was arrested for the crime and his case is pending in the courts.
MIHR said NPRC has since taken the issue up and began investigations.
“Meanwhile MIHR is still receiving more incidences of alleged abuse of local mine workers by the Chinese miners,” MIHR said.
NPRC Commissioner Charles Masunungure confirmed that they received the petition from MIHR and 13 other CSOs to probe the abuse at the said mine and were yet to come up with the findings on the issue.
“I can confirm that we received the petition and we have since deployed a team to get to the bottom of the issue on the ground.
“At the moment, we are yet to know the findings. Our approach as a commission that receives complaints is, we must investigate and make recommendations on the issues we would have found,” Masunungure said.
He said the commission is not just focusing on the Hope Fountain issue but has widened its focus to establish what is going on at other mines and after the completion of the investigations, they were going to make recommendations on the findings and proffer solutions on the issues of concern.
In their petition, the CSOs said the Chinese miners’ behaviour was unacceptable and must be stopped.
The groups include, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Matobo Youth Development Initiative, Rural Communities Empowerment Trust, Community Podium, Christian Legal Society Zimbabwe, Community Youth Development Trust, South Western Region Gender Network, Ibhetshu likaZulu, Greater Whange Residents Trust, Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association, Lupane Youth for Development and Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Association
The CSOs said the Hoper Fountain incident was not the first one, as in June 2020, a Gweru mine worker was shot five times by Chinese miner Zhang Xuen who also injured another.
“These are not the only incidences of Chinese mining companies being accused of torturing and abusing Zimbabwean mine workers.
“Incidences like these have also been reported in Insiza, Gwanda, Bubi, Hwange, Gweru, Matobo, Masvingo, Mutare and other Districts of the country where mining is taking place,” reads the petition.
“We have gathered in many areas of the country where the Chinese mining companies are operating that these acts of wanton human rights abuse are rampant and the locals no longer report them because of the impunity they have experienced.”
The CSOs pleaded with the commission to investigate the alleged abuses.
They said their petition was backed by the fact that Section 44 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandated that “the State and every person, including juristic persons, and every institution and agency of the government at every level must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights and freedoms” set out in the Constitution.
“Realizing that our citizens have failed to enjoy ‘administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair’ (Section 68 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe), we thus call for the Independent Commissions to step in and protect our citizens,” further reads the petition.