THE shooting of two Zimbabwean workers by a Chinese boss shows the ‘systematic and widespread’ abuse that locals face in Chinese mining operations, says the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Society (ZELA).
In a court affidavit, police said Zhang Xuen shot an employee five times and wounded another at the mine he runs in Gweru province, in central Zimbabwe, during a row with workers over outstanding pay. Zhang has been charged with attempted murder.
A video that many alleged to be of the incident has circulated on social media in Zimbabwe, provoking public anger and calls from a local watchdog for a re-evaluation of Chinese mining operations in the country. The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe described the shooting as an isolated incident and said it was in support of an open and transparent probe by local authorities.
China is Zimbabwe’s largest foreign investor with significant interests in the country’s extractive sector. Last year, Chinese firm Tsignchan signed a $2bn deal with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines to extract chrome, iron ore, nickel and coal, vital resources for China.
At least 10,000 Chinese people are in Zimbabwe, and many are working on in the country’s mining, telecoms and construction sectors on a contractual basis, according to a 2016 Brookings Institution report. But their presence in the country has sometimes been controversial.