By Lloyd Takawira
Chinese businesses operating locally have hogged the limelight after an alleged forced labour system was exposed in a documentary that premiered recently on WION (World is One News).
The documentary revealed how Chinese companies in the manufacturing and mining sector are abusing and exploiting desperate Zimbabwean workers .
WION further alleged that Zimbabwe’s relationship with China which government has always described as ‘all weather friends’ is a “a pact with the devil”.
Trade deals between Harare and Beijing have quadrupled since the turn of the millennium with China making headway into the African market particularly Zimbabwe. The deals have only benefited the ruling elites .
“When the west imposed sanctions against Mugabe regime in the early 2000 . Zimbabwe made a pact with the devil. The regime under a ruthless dictator Robert Mugabe introduced the looking East policy. In 2003 bilateral trade between Harare and Beijing was 900million and today it’s over 1,3billion USD. The Chinese companies have penetrated all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy from mining, agriculture, manufacturing and even media with these companies Combined investment now believed to be worth 10 billion dollars”.
The documentary added that Chinese investment prospect always comes backhanded and are packaged with deceit .
“China does not just bring money. They bring their abhorrent work culture to Zimbabwe. Local employees are treated like slaves. They don’t get enough wages, no compensation for injuries, gas leaks are the order of the day in Chinese factories”.
WION showed pictures of workers and video footage shot in Chinese factories and mines highlighting rampant abuse of workers .
Some worker’s are said to have fainted, picked in fork-lifts in mining. The workers have in the past protested over lack of protective clothing at their work stations but these were quashed.
Appearing on the documentary, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) secretary general, Japhet Moyo said workers are brutalized everyday in Chinese companies.
“Workers are brutalized everyday, we get many reports of these abuses from workers . When we approach them they allege victimization. They (Chinese) don’t want those issues to be spoken about. They push back. If you speak to them they pretend not to understand the language and the laws.”
Chinese hostile conduct towards workers has been a cause of concern for labour unions in Zimbabwe however albeit a deafening silence from the government.
WION (World is One News) is an Indian multinational English language news channel headquartered in New Delhi. It is owned by the Essel Group and is part of the Zee Media network of channels.