Wednesday, 7 July 2021

WE ARE SLAVES TO OUR CHINESE EMPLOYER


MINE workers at Yakuts Investment in Matopo have allegedly been turned into slaves by their Chinese employer, He Chisheng Mike, as they are being denied rights to leave the mining premises and are forced to stay in shacks with no toilets.

The workers told NewsDay that they are also subjected to verbal abuse at the hand of their bosses, while at the same time they are forced to pay US$20 for COVID-19 tests whenever they leave the premises.

NewsDay and six mine workers’ unions, including the National Union of Mines, Quarrying, Iron and Steel workers of Zimbabwe (NUMQISWZ), yesterday visited the mine to investigate the abuses.

They were denied access to the premises. Six workers, Knowledge Mukomba, Spencer Denhere, Chelsani Nyathi, Stanley Muleya, Isiah Munkuli and Lovemore Mugande, said they left the mine on Saturday to visit their families, but on their return on Monday, they were ordered to pay US$20 for COVID-19 tests.

“The treatment we get is very harsh. We are not allowed to go to town. We are being told that there is COVID-19, but he (Mike) leaves the premises several times a day. We do not have freedom. He is always angry and insulting us in Chinese,” said one worker Ernest Mudimba.

Another worker, identified as Anderson, said during meetings, they were not given a chance to comment and were told “to go and report wherever they want”.

“My mother is currently sick, but I am failing to just go and give her money to get treatment,” Anderson said. Mine manager Patrick Mleya confirmed that the complaints being raised by workers were true.

“As a manager, there is not much I can say, but if you see workers complaining, it definitely means something is wrong. If it is one worker complaining, then maybe you could say it is a lie. But as you can see, many workers are complaining. I don’t know if it is the COVID-19 situation, but regulations were imposed that they (workers) are not allowed to leave the premises,” Mleya said.

He said the workers were unable even to go to the shops to purchase food.

NUMQISWZ legal and education training officer Shadreck Pelewelo said: “They should stop infringements being done on the employees by charging them US$20 for any COVID-19 tests. It is criminal and violates the Constitution.”

When NewsDay sought a comment from Mike, he stormed out of the premises. “You can go and write any stories you want,” Mike said.

Last year, complaints over Mike’s abuses were sent to the Immigration office in Bulawayo. Newsday

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