By Linda Mujuru
Workers at Anjin Diamond Company are crying foul over racial discrimination with allegations that Chinese nationals working on the same job as Zimbabwean nationals are getting different salaries on the same job description.
Anjin, one of the seven firms licensed to mine the vast government-controlled Marange diamond fields, is a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co and Zimbabwean State entities and began operations in 2009.
Located in the Manicaland province, Marange diamond fields, 400km east of Harare have been the focus of controversy since citizens previously occupying the area were displaced to make way for various mining companies. Human rights activists say up to 200 people were killed during the removal of villagers.
Investigations conducted by this reporter revealed that a Dump truck operator of Chinese nationality gets a salary of US$ 1800 per month whilst a Zimbabwean Dump truck operator gets $300 per month.
A former employee with Anjin, Tavengwa Sitima said that Zimbabwean employees have been subject to abuse from the company for a long time and no action has been taken to ensure that the company complies to the labour rules and regulations.
“l was chased away from the company because l was vocal and l raised issues of employee welfare, the company has created an environment where employees who complain are sent away as such employees have learnt to keep quiet so as to feed their families”, said Sitima.
Sitima was dismissed from his duties at Anjin in the year 2012. Like many other former employees at Anjin he was not afforded with a formal hearing and has not been given a chance to collect his belongings from the company barracks.
Labour Act chapter (17:01) states that discrimination based on race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed, gender and any disability in matters to do with employment all contribute to unfair practice by the employer.
Douglas Marekera the Security Manager for Anjin said he could not comment on these allegations.
“l cannot comment on these allegations on behalf of the company, go back to the person who told you” said Marekera.
Miners from the Chinese-owned companies described consistently poor health and safety standards, including inadequate ventilation that can lead to serious lung diseases, the failure to replace workers’ damaged protective equipment, and routine threats to fire workers who refuse to work in unsafe places underground.
These practices cause injuries and other health complications. At times, Chinese managers bribe or threaten miners to keep them from reporting accidents or other problems to the government’s Mines Safety Department, said one of Anjin employees who requested anonymity.