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Zimbabwean Miners Allege Abuse by Controversial Anjin

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10 August, 2012On 3 August 2012, 1,500 workers at a mine controlled by Anjin Investments were fired when the labour court ruled their strike action illegal. Workers were demanding better pay and working conditions, in their eighth strike in two years. Workers were told to vacate company housing and reapply for their positions, if they wished to continue work at the mine.

Local NGO, Center for Research and Development (CRD) that monitors human rights violations in the diamond mining area has called for the unconditional reinstatement of the dismissed workers, saying "The decision to fire the workers was arbitrary and totally uncalled for. It is also a gross violation of the right of workers to engage in industrial action if their working conditions are appalling. The intolerance shown by the Anjin management in handling the workers genuine grievances is unacceptable in modern society." 

CRD has also raised issue with the reapplication process that workers are being subjected to; “Advising the dismissed workers to reapply is a draconian way of dividing the workers by victimizing their leaders and those suspected to have played a leading role in the industrial action”

There are also allegations of human rights violations. Anjin workers allege that some have been sexually assaulted by Chinese supervisors and that the company gave the workers committee a letter of apology stating that the perpetrators would be returned to China. To date this has not been carried out and the police have also not taken any action. Workers also report that graves on the mining site have been desecrated, instead of reinterring bodies at another appropriate site, remains are tossed aside.

Anjin is steeped in controversy. A joint Sino Zimbabwe venture, the Zimbabwe company Matt Bronze, is suspected as being a front for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defense, military and police. Anjin’s board is dominated by ‘securocrats’, senior members of state security. The UK based NGO Global Witness released a report in June 2012 to raise these issues and concerns that profits from the mine could be used for off budget financing of state police. 

Global Witness say that the Kimberley Process, a certification programme meant to stem the trade of conflict diamonds,  has failed in Zimbabwe and it is one of the reasons that they give for withdrawing as an observer to the Kimberley Process.

Peter Hain, A British Member of Parliament has taken the issues raised by Global Witness into a parliamentary debate in mid July 2012, urging that sanctions be maintained and extended to include securocrats involved in diamond mining. He has also motivated for reform of the Kimberley Process. 

The sanctions in place consist of travel ban and asset freeze on 112 Zimbabweans by the EU since 2002. In June 2012, a EU delegation visited the Marange area where Anjin is located and were told that allegations that Anjin had not been contributing to the fiscus were untrue. On 23 July, EU ministers released a statement saying that sanctions against most of the individuals on the list would be lifted and would occur after a referendum on the new constitution had taken place. The move is meant as an incentive to keep up positive reforms in Zimbabwe after years of violence and economic turmoil.   

Amongst those calling for the lifting of sanctions in Zimbabwe, is The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay after her visit to the country in May 2012, who says that the stigma of sanctions is likely to be have been detrimental to trade.