Recent studies have suggested that Chinese companies operating on the African continent pose a threat to the interests of the people of Zimbabwe, as there has been an increase in human rights abuses by Beijing investors in areas with natural resources, especially the mining sectors. According to a Canadian-based think tank, the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), the growing presence of Chinese companies on the African continent is causing waves of negative feelings in several layers of society.
IFFRAS reported that there is a feeling that China-Zimbabwe relations have deepened and broadened massively after Zimbabwe adopted the “look east policy” over the past decade. Citing empirical studies, the think tank suggested that following Zimbabwe’s adoption of the policy, there has been an increase in human rights abuses by Chinese companies in parts of the African nation, endowed with natural resources, especially the mining sector.
Chinese companies ‘loot and displace citizens’
According to IFFRAS, a group of 27 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) based in Zimbabwe recently issued a statement titled – “Civil Society Statement on Chinese Investments in Zimbabwe: Community Feelings Must Be Respected”, criticizing the operations of Chinese companies in Zimbabwe. CSOs have accused Chinese companies of “looting” Zimbabwean resources, “displacing citizens” from their homes as they embark on various business projects in the country. The organizations also named Chinese companies.
CSOs said Chinese company “Anjin Mining” failed to pay its taxes. The organizations also blamed Freestone Mines for failing to conduct environmental impact assessments to assess the damage it has caused to the environment. CSOs demanded that the Zimbabwean government hire China and Chinese investors for being socially irresponsible, violating human rights and illegally extracting the country’s natural resources.
According to IFFRAS, the CSOs’ statement came in the context of an order issued by a Chinese company giving Binga villagers three months’ notice to leave their ancestral lands after the miner was granted permission. to extract coal in the region. Additionally, CSOs led by the Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) pointed to weak levels of governance led by Chinese investors and urged the government and media to take Chinese companies to task. According to IFFRAS, Chinese investment in Zimbabwe and the African continent in general has increased due to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has launched a host of infrastructure projects by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.