Chinese companies warned over abuse of Zimbabwean workers

Chinese nationals who own businesses in Zimbabwe have been strongly criticized by the MDC-T for abusing local workers and flouting the country’s labour regulations, with the party demanding that the abuses be stopped immediately.

In a statement this week, the MDC-T said the Chinese abuses include workers putting in long hours, receiving paltry wages and being assaulted by their employers. The lack of health and safety regulations and failure to remit pension contributions and union dues were also on the list.

“Should this abuse continue, the MDC calls upon every law abiding citizen to boycott Chinese products until they learn to treat workers with the respect and dignity,” the party warned Chinese employers.

The MDC-T also urged the Zimbabwean government to bring the matter to the attention of the Chinese authorities, with the hope that their government will encourage its nationals to abide by Zimbabwean trade laws.

The party said there has been an influx of Chinese businesses in Zimbabwe over the last five years, who are “exploiting” the locals and “overshadowing” them instead of contributing to the country’s development and economic growth.

Luke Zunga from the Global Zimbabwe Forum told SW Radio Africa that the Chinese are notorious for abusing their workers all over Africa, working them long hours and paying very low wages. He said some governments “turn a blind eye” to the problem in order to maintain good relations and secure lucrative deals.

“They are so powerful that I have been told they even assault policemen. That’s how much power they have in some countries,” Zunga explained. He added that they should be held accountable by Zimbabwean authorities and penalised if they do not comply.

Regarding the boycott threatened by the MDC-T, Zunga said this could be used to force the Chinese to comply with Zim labour laws, but it can be tricky because consumers buy what they want and cheap Chinese products are popular in a poor countries.

Zimbabweans have complained about Chinese abuses for years, making fun of cheap Chinese products that have flooded the Zim markets as “zhing zhongs”. These cheap products have also been blamed for destroying Zimbabwean companies that were not able to compete.

The Mugabe regime has ignored the abuses and pursued what they call the “Look East” policy, which seeks to establish relations with eastern countries while ranting against western nations and the U.K. In return, China has protected Zimbabwe at the United Nations Security Council, voting against punitive resolutions. – SW Radio Africa News

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