Players in the construction industry have accused Chinese contractors of abusing local employees.
Addressing delegates at a Build It Expo in Harare last Friday, local industrialists accused their Asian counterparts of physical abuse, overworking and underpaying their employees.
Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Workers’ Union chairperson Enjula Mpofu urged workers to defend themselves against abusive Chinese employers.
“We are trying to work to address these issues and we are engaging the Ministry of Labour regarding these matters. We have problems with Chinese employers who are ill-treating workers.
They do not give them protective clothing, (hence) they work in tattered overalls. The Chinese say nothing can be done to them because they have government immunity,” she said.
“Workers don’t even have pay slips. They have pieces of paper written in Chinese and we don’t even know what they are getting.
“Why give a Chinese employer work to come with prisoners to take jobs? If they threaten you with their karate, you can fight them with bricks and shovels.
“They claim that they have government immunity and abuse workers. If they abuse you, fight back with shovels and even bricks or whatever you come across.”
Confederation Industry Federation of Zimbabwe
president Philip Chiyangwa said he was not amused by the level of cruelty by the Chinese.
“We have failed to put heads together and make sure those who come, do not eat first before us.
We have laws that protect us, but there are people who are making sure they give preference to Chinese who are even beating up workers here.
“Along Borrowdale Road, they start working at 4am until 12pm with some lights on in the middle of the night and the Chinese monitoring the Zimbabweans working.”
Chiyangwa said the country was stable to invest, but remained poor financially.
“You cannot compare Zimbabwe to other countries like Malawi and Zambia on infrastructure, but we need seriousness,” he added.