The Chinese manager of a gold mine in central Zimbabwe allegedly shot and injured two black ex-employees after a wage dispute escalated into a brawl on Sunday.
Police have arrested the Chinese national on charges of attempted murder, local media reported Tuesday.
Zhang Xuelin, 41, serves as proprietor and manager of Reeden Mine near the city of Gweru, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. Over the weekend, Zhang allegedly shot and injured Kennedy Tachiona, 39, and Wendy Chikwaira, 31, near the mine, according to New Zimbabwe, a local newspaper.
As reported by local news site Bulawayo 24, Zhang had previously “fired” the two black workers. The duo then approached Zhang on Sunday “demanding salaries” and the confrontation intensified into a brawl, which ended when Zhang allegedly shot and wounded the two laborers. Videos purportedly capturing the incident have surfaced on Zimbabwe social media, though the footage is brief and difficult to discern.
A Chinese man is caught on camera in Gweru shooting 2 black workers for demanding their wages!
Yet regime enablers like George Charamba @jamwanda2 who have been tweeting endlessly about America go silent!
Are the lives of black people more important in America than in Zimbabwe? pic.twitter.com/2mJKsOL1Pe
— Hopewell Chin’ono (@daddyhope) June 22, 2020
New Zimbabwe reports that Tachiona sustained several gunshot wounds in the scuffle and was admitted to a hospital in Gweru. Chikwaira was also admitted to a local hospital before being treated and discharged.
The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe’s spokesperson issued a statement addressing the incident via Twitter on Monday. The statement said:
We are highly concerned about the case in which a Chinese employee of a private Chinese company … shot and injured a local employee due to a wage dispute yesterday. Although this is an isolated incident and the Embassy has no law enforcement authority over the enterprise, we firmly support Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agencies to transparently and openly investigate and handle the case in accordance with the law of Zimbabwe.
“Any possible illegal acts and persons who violate the law should not be shielded. China and Zimbabwe have long-standing friendship and cooperation. We call upon all relevant sides to safeguard it jealously and carefully,” the spokesperson added.
Although the Chinese Embassy’s statement claimed this was an “isolated incident,” the head of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) claimed on Tuesday that Sunday’s shooting came “barely a week after another Chinese employer pointed a gun at an employee” at a different mine in Zvishavane, Zimbabwe, “over a salary dispute.”
“Since the invasion of the mining sector by the Chinese, incidents of beatings, harassment, and ill-treatment of workers by armed employers are rife,” the union head, Justice Chinhema, told New Zimbabwe.
China maintains a presence in Zimbabwe through infrastructure development projects, built under the banner of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Beijing promotes its BRI projects as opportunities for developing nations to expand their infrastructure systems and become more economically sound. In reality, the projects are based on predatory loans that force the host nations further into debt to Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses this scheme to increase foreign nations’ dependence on Beijing, which in turn increases Chinese influence and power across the globe. BRI projects are littered throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.