The Minister of Labour in Zimbabwe, Mr Paurina Mupariwa, has announced that his department is investigating persistent reports of rampant abuse of Zimbabwe workers by Chinese employers. Teams of investigators are visiting Chinese Mining and Construction companies to investigate the alleged abuses.
Exploitation and Abuse
Labour officials report that workers have complained of physical abuse by Chinese managers, salaries far below the legal minimum, extended working hours far beyond the legal limits, and serious negligence over safety in the workplace and health issues.
Look East Policy
President Robert Mugabe's Look East Policy has stimulated a massive influx of Chinese businesses. Chinese investors are excluded from the Black Economic Empowerment Programme which requires the handing over of 51% of all foreign owned firms to local control. Chinese companies are also given a free hand by the government to run their mines and companies without any regard to the Zimbabwean labour laws.
"They Treat Us Like Slaves"
Workers have complained of been beaten and kicked by Chinese managers. "They treat us like slaves." They do not observe the safety requirements and provide no protective clothing in the mines. Where employers are meant to pay workers $400 they pay only $80. Aside from paying workers far below the minimum wage requirements, they can go for months without paying any wages to their workers at all.
Contrasts in Colonialism
Numerous Zimbabweans have commented that Mugabe's frequently stated slogan: Zimbabwe will never again be colonised, is most ironic. "We have exchanged British colonialism with Chinese colonialism. But whereas the British built roads, railways, bridges, schools, hospitals, churches and introduced respect for law and property, the Chinese only come to exploit our country's natural resources."
China Dominates International Trade Expo in Zimbabwe
China was the largest single exhibitor at the Zimbabwe International Trade Expo in Bulawayo which began on 24 April 2012. 35 Chinese companies ranging from mining, infrastructure and engineering took up over 500 square meters of exhibition space at the Trade Fair. Whereas on previous Trade Fairs, the United States, Britain and Germany predominated, now it is clear that China has replaced these Western nations in economic and political dominance in Zimbabwe.
Decades of Decline in Education
The progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has blamed plummeting pass rates in schools on government policies which have chased out experienced teachers and made the country over-reliant on temporary teachers. "The situation in rural schools has worsened by political violence, especially during election years and with calls for early elections by ZANU-PF, now reaching fever-pitch, teachers in some volatile rural areas are bracing themselves for a difficult time ahead." Teachers Unions have complained of decades of decline due to ZANU-PF policies. In 1979, before Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF was handed the country, Rhodesia enjoyed the highest pass rate for the Cambridge Certificate in the Commonwealth.
Zimbabwe in Debt to IMF
The Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, has confirmed that the Zimbabwe government owes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) US$550 million. Minister of Finance announced that "Zimbabwe does not have the capacity to pay off the IMF's arrears from its own resources." Biti also confirmed that Zimbabwe owes multilateral institutions a total of US$2,504 billion, of which the World Bank is owed US$1,126 billion, the African Development Bank is owed US$529 million and the European Investment Bank is owed US$221 million.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party point out that the socialist policies of ZANU-PF have imploded the economy, committing national suicide by destroying the over 5,000 white commercial farms, which not only fed the country, but provided most of the employment, and most of the foreign exchange earnings of the nation.
The Black Economic Empowerment laws which are forcing all Western companies to hand over 51% of their shares and control to Zimbabweans is also causing chaos and chasing away desperately needed foreign investment.
Destroying the Tourism Industry
The invasion of game reserves and slaughtering of elephants for ivory and rhinos for rhino horn, to pay for fighter jets and tanks from Red China, have further destroyed the tourist potential of Zimbabwe.
"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith."2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa