Home / World / The miners shot by Chinese mine owners in Zimbabwe show “systemic” abuse, the watchdog says

The miners shot by Chinese mine owners in Zimbabwe show “systemic” abuse, the watchdog says



In an affidavit from the court, police said Zhang Xuen shot and killed one employee five times and wounded another in the mine he operates in Gweru province in central Zimbabwe during a dispute with unpaid workers.

Zhang was charged with attempted murder, said Zimbabwean police spokesman Paul Nyathi.

According to local media reports, Zhang did not make a plea because there was no approved interpreter in court. He will remain in custody until July 7, at least, the report said.

The shootout took place on Sunday morning when miner Kenneth Tachiona confronted Zhang after allegedly refusing to pay his wages in US dollars as agreed, according to an affidavit.

Tachiona stormed towards Zhang, who then drew his gun and, according to the affidavit, shot the worker three times on his right thigh and twice on the left.

Police said Zhang fired another shot at workers and one of the bullets hit an employee̵

7;s chin. The wounded workers are treated in a private hospital.

A video, which many claimed was the incident, was released on social media in Zimbabwe, which angered the public and required a local watchdog to reevaluate Chinese mining operations in the country.

CNN was unable to independently review the video.

The Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe described the shootout as an individual case and said it supports an open and transparent investigation by local authorities.

“Possible illegal acts and people who violate the law should not be shielded. China and Zimbabwe have a longstanding friendship and cooperation. We urge all relevant parties to exercise jealousy and care.” the Chinese embassy said in a statement on Twitter.

Dangerous conditions

China is Zimbabwe’s largest foreign investor with significant interests in the country’s commodities sector.

Last year, Chinese company Tsignchan signed a $ 2 billion contract with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines to extract chromium, iron ore, nickel and coal, vital resources for China.
According to a Brookings Institution report in 2016, there are at least 10,000 Chinese in Zimbabwe and many are contracted to work in the country’s mining, telecommunications and construction sectors.

But their presence in the country was sometimes controversial.

Both the country’s mines operated in China and state-owned mining operations have been accused of human rights violations and poor security measures for personnel.
In February, a group of local miners in Matabeleland South province applied for a labor court to protest the dismissal of their Chinese employer.
In April last year, workers from another Chinese mining company in the province complained about being underpaid and working without protective clothing.

According to deputy director Shamiso Mutisi, several cases are currently under investigation by Chinese miners who refuse to pay salaries or provide workers with protective clothing, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic

“It has become a pattern and a system. We have cases where miners are abused, beaten and discriminated against by Chinese miners,” said Mutisi.

In a statement on Wednesday, ZELA said that locals in some Chinese-owned mines often operate “dangerous, harsh, and life-threatening” conditions while being poorly paid for their time.

The Sunday shootout is another reason for the government to rethink its political and economic commitments to China, the group said.

“In many parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe, Chinese mining investors have experienced poor safety, health, environmental, labor and human rights standards in the past,” the statement said.

CNN asked the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment.

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The Chinese community in Gweru has distanced itself from the recent incident and has promised to pay the injured workers’ medical bills and help their families solve the problem.

The Chinese community said in a statement that the incident did not reflect the behavior of its members, and they asked the company to compensate the workers.

“We sincerely hope that our friendship and cooperation between the two countries and two peoples will not be affected by this isolated incident, which does not reflect the behavior of all of us as a Chinese community,” the statement said.




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