Different community groups converged at the Jameson Hotel in Harare last week to discuss the topic ‘what benefits is Zimbabwe accruing from Chinese involvement in extractive industries’. The event was organised by the Media Centre.
Speaker after speaker bemoaned the conduct of Chinese companies against their workers. Chinese companies were accused of lacking respect and showing disregard for labour laws in the country and were accused of ill treating their workers.
Mr Cosmas Sunguro, President of the Zimbabwe Diamond’s Workers Union bemoaned the ill treatment of Black workers by Chinese managers in the mining communities. “I have had ordeals with these people when they have detained me and locked me on their premises.’ he said
But economist, Mr Nyasha Muchichwa believes the Chinese are not entirely at fault on cases of worker abuse. The findings of a research conducted by the
Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) revealed that when Zimbabwean officials went to China seeking investment, they misrepresented to the Chinese that the country had no labour laws.
Chinese companies are therefore working with the assurances given to them by the government.Mr Brian Mudumi weighed in, saying China was also trying to sanitize its own labour laws. It is therefore not surprising that some of the Chinese companies would flout one or two labour rules. The government needs to lay down the law to companies and enforce the law properly.
Panellists advised the government to translate relevant laws into Chinese so that prospective investors would familiarize themselves with various investment issues in Zimbabwe. The law must be read to Chinese companies and those that do not comply with the laws must be called to order.