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Zimbabwe: Working for Chinese is 'hell on earth'

 
 
 
 
 
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On the northern verges of Harare the ­massive new military ­college is taking shape, a monument to China’s tightening hold on Zimbabwe.

The complex is also a symbol of growing hostility from Zimbabwe’s labour force towards Chinese employers. It is being built using a controversial Chinese loan and its workers have gone on strike to protest against beatings by their bosses and low pay.

Zimbabwe will receive $98-­million for the college’s construction, which is being undertaken by a Chinese contractor. The loan will be repaid over 20 years through earnings from the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields that are being mined by Anjin Investments, another Chinese firm.

The college is a sprawling, heavily guarded complex with high security walls that run for a kilometre through what used to be farmland. Two weeks ago workers at the site went on strike, alleging that the Chinese managers of Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company were guilty of assaulting them and demanding an increase on their $4 daily wage.

Chinese businessmen are targeting Zimbabwe’s minerals, but many more are arriving to run businesses in the construction, manufacturing and retail sectors. In Harare, Chinese restaurants are all the rage, packing in customers drawn to their exotic health foods and herbal teas.

China Garden, a suburban Chinese restaurant with brightly coloured golden dragons at the entrance, is hugely popular with the middle classes and diplomats.

But last month cook Patrick Makaza quit his job at the restaurant, saying he had been beaten by his bosses. “Working for these men from the East is hell on earth,” he told the independent daily newspaper NewsDay. “Most of us are suffering in silence, but I have decided I can only go so far and will go no further.”

The restaurant has declined to comment.

The hostility of local workers and traders — even among Zanu-PF supporters — is mounting as the number of Chinese businessmen in the country grows. In Chiadzwa, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, a Zanu-PF ally, has taken Anjin investments to court to recover allowances it said are owed to workers.

David Chapfika, a Zanu-PF member who heads the government board responsible for implementing controversial empowerment laws, has also complained about Chinese nationals’ involvement in small businesses.

“I know the Chinese are our friends, but I’m sorry to say that when we talk of the indigenisation programme we can’t ignore the fact that they have ventured into business activities that can easily be done by locals.”

The trade unions are pushing for action. The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trade Workers’ Union, for example, has petitioned the labour ministry to end the abuses. “Workers continue to endure various forms of physical torture at the hands of these Chinese employers right under the noses of the authorities,” a union spokesperson said.

“One of the most disturbing developments is that most of the Chinese employers openly boast that they have government protection and so nothing can be done to them. This clearly indicates that the issue has more serious political connotations than we can imagine.”

National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary Cotten Ndlovu told the Mail & Guardian that workers at Chinese mines were often forced to work long hours for low pay and with inadequate protective clothing.

“We have been to Chinese-owned mines in the Midlands province. The conditions we found there are unimaginable. The safety of workers is at stake and this is a great concern to us,” Ndlovu said.

He added that the union had often been denied entry to the premises of Chinese mines.

The authorities appear willing to turn a blind eye — in part, to protect their economic interests. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said Zimbabwe cannot afford to ignore the Asian economic powerhouse.

Yet the Chinese themselves seem increasingly concerned. Last week, the Chinese Communist Party sent a delegation led by the chair of the party’s overseas Chinese affairs committee, Yu Linxiang, to investigate how Chinese nationals are relating to locals.

“Our delegation came to Zimbabwe to meet the Chinese people in Zimbabwe and particularly [to] learn how they live and how they deal with the Zimbabwean people,” Yu said after meeting MPs.

Festus Dumbu, a Movement for Democratic Change MP who opposed the loan for the military college in Parliament, said abuses were being ignored to appease China. “Have the Chinese become immune to the Zimbabwe law to the extent that we have never had any Chinese who have been arrested for assault or abuse of workers?” he said.

Trade between the two countries stood at $550-million last year, according to the Chinese consulate. Reports suggest China plans up to $10-billion in investments over the next five years, more than the amounts pledged by any other state.

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  • John Taurus

    Negros refuse to work hard for anyone. Let them enjoy the Chinese as they hated the Whites, too! Negros are worthless all over the world. In Jamaica the Negros want White rule to return because they don’t like having all these corrupt negro leaders. Blacks are a cancer on this earth.

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    • David Peters

      John Taurus,

      Your comment is most racist and unintelligent. Did you have some education? Please try and be a humanist. Nobody owns this universe,it belongs to the Most High, THE CREATOR. Do Him good by being a patriotic member of human race.No one is superior to the other.

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      • John Taurus

        Yes, I graduated from college with honors. Racist?? I am not a racist, I am a realist. I tell things the way they are. Negros are problems all over the world. If shit stinks, I do not say it smells like roses in order to be politically correct. Actually, Blacks are the most racist people on earth.I got my dislike of Blacks from living among them. I know Blacks very well, their capabilities, and their limitations.

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        • David Peters

          John Taurus,

          I don’t see how you claim to have a good education when your mind is dirtied with the wrong ideals. Maybe you don’t even believe in God? By the way that is your problem. I have in my company lots of your color working for me and I do not discriminate anyone at all. Try and have a circumcision as soon as possible.

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      • Joe

        There are people of all the races that think that their race is superior to other races.

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  • John Taurus

    David, your writing skills indicate that you are either uneducated or are an immigrant. I have found that most people are idiots. If their politically correct Zionist politicians told the citizens that feces sandwiches were good for them, most of the citizens would be standing on the corner scarfing down feces sandwiches. “Recycled nutrients” and “Good for you!!” Of course, the Zionists would buy up most of the raw sewage so they could make money off the feces sandwich craze. More people need to adopt a realist perspective on all things. Think for yourselves. Observe the world around you.

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  • Joe

    I think that Zimbabwe’s Mugabe should stop being very stubborn and have white farmers and white business men back into the country and help grow the food to feed starving Zimbabwean blacks.From what I have read,the whites treated the Zimbabwe blacks no worse than the Chinese business men.

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  • Joe

    Attention black Americans or African-Americans.You read this article about Zimbabwe blacks saying that working for Chinese businessmen is “he’ll on earth”?You hate white America?You better pray that these Chinese business people don’t invade America because if they do,they will treat the American Negros and Mexican illegals the same way they treat the Zimbabwe blacks.You had better be thankful for the white people employing you because they pay better than the”dragon man”!I have heard that “brown is the new black”.There is a black South Carolina state congressman,Robert Ford is his name.Earlier this year he made a statement about how black men and their “blue eyed brothers” do not want to do the hard work.He was comparing illegal alien labors from Mexico to Americans.There will come a time when blacks will miss their white employers.

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  • For years blacks complained fought hated murdered and demonized the white man, now he has found in the Chinese some one he cannot bully or use racism to get his way, blacks now realize how damned good they had it with benevolent white rule, but its too damn late now.Be careful what you ask for and rebel against you just might get it.

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