The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy has launched a probe on Chinese mining companies for alleged externalisation of minerals, operating clandestinely and ill-treatment of workers.
Chairperson, Edward Chindori-Chininga, told NewsDay his committee had already visited some of the mines operated by Chinese investors to verify the charges.
“We are visiting Chinese miners across the country to establish if they are operating according to the laws of the country. Some Chinese miners are doing well and those will be exempted from the probe. Only those that have issues will be dealt with,” he said.
“We are facing transport challenges and as a result we might not be able to reach to every mine, especially those in remote areas,” said Chindori-Chininga.
He said the committee had been tasked to investigate incidents of illegal and clandestine operations involving Chinese miners and dealers who were reportedly exporting minerals illegally.
The probe follows complaints by the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers’ Union and the National Union of Quarry and Mining Workers of Zimbabwe against several Chinese firms accused of violating labour regulations.
In January, the unions approached Labour and Social Welfare minister Paurina Mpariwa to air their grievances.
The unions claimed Chinese firms were abusing their workers and were paying them paltry wages, among other unfair labour practices.
Chindori-Chininga, could not be drawn into revealing what course of action the government would take on those found operating illegally.
But the former mines minister said his committee would for now concentrate on investigating the companies’ legal status and deal with workers’ grievances later.
Last month, Charles Moyo, an employee of a Chinese contractor, China Nachang, at Mtshabezi-Umzingwane Dam link water pipeline was crushed to death when walls of a 10-metre deep trench caved in on him and five others.
Moyo’s family initially demanded $250 000 compensation, but later settled for $7 000 after protracted negotiations with the mine management.
Mpariwa warned Chinese firms to comply with the country’s labour laws, dismissing claims they were immune to labour laws as their conduct was governed by “country-to-country” agreements.