Rights, Peace, Gender Commissions Petitioned To Deal With Abusive Chinese Employers

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

A GROUP of rights-based NGOs have petitioned the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) to investigate allegations of abuse on workers by some Chinese mining companies.

The petition prepared by Matabeleland North Institute of Human Rights (MIHR) was endorsed and jointly issued by Women Institute for Leadership Development, Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association and the Matobo Youth Development Initiative.

Also among the groups that signed the petition are Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance, Greater Whange Residents Association, Lupane Youth for Development, Green Government, Christian Legacy Society of Zimbabwe, CYDT, Community Podium, SWRGN, Ibhetshu LikaZulu and Rural Communities Empowerment Trust.

The groups are seeking urgent investigation and action into abuse of local Zimbabwean workers by Chinese mining companies countrywide.

The consortium said it was incensed by some videos and pictures circulating on social media showing a Chinese miner assaulting a worker for demanding unpaid salaries.

The video also shows some dogs trying to attack the worker while there are also pictures of injured mine workers after being assaulted with a shovel by a Chinese miner.

A Chinese miner last year was arrested in Gweru after he shot a worker five times and injured another.

Said the groups, “They are not the only incidences of Chinese mining companies being accused of torturing and abusing Zimbabwean mine workers in the country.

“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 and Chinese companies are operating.”

The petitioners said acts of wanton human rights abuse were rampant and locals no longer reported them because of the impunity enjoyed by the Asians.

“As the organisations operating in Zimbabwe and concerned with human rights, governance, gender, environment and peace issues, we call upon Zimbabwe’s constitutional bodies to quickly institute investigations and actions into these wanton human rights abuses by the Chinese mining companies to local citizens in all Chinese companies in the country.

“These forms of abuse force mine workers to shun formal mining employment and resort to illegal mining which further exacerbates environmental degradation, crime and vice.

“Realising that our citizens have been failing to enjoy administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial, and both substantively and procedurally fair, we thus call for the independent commissions to step in and protect our citizens,” further reads the petition.

The petitioners said Sections 44, 51, 53, 54 and 65 of the constitution forbid torture and slavery and guarantee labour rights and protection of citizens.

They also want the Chinese mining companies investigated for suspected lack of compliance to Covid-19 regulations.

They said waiting for the lockdown to end before attending to the issue could be detrimental to the situation.