Zimbabwe strike cripples diamond operations of military-backed Chinese firm

A strike involving over a thousand workers has crippled the Zimbabwe-based diamond operations of Anjin Investments, a Chinese company with extensive ties to the Zimbabwe military.

According to Zimbabwe's Nehanda Radio the strike has brought a virtual halt to operations by the Chinese diamond miner, with only a few Chinese nationals continuing to show up for work.

Strikers are demanding that pay be brought in line with local standards for the diamond industry, as well as the reinstatement of workers committee chairperson Tavengwa Chitima, who was dismissed on Thursday for having organized the strike.

Anjin Investments is a joint venture between a Chinese state-owned firm and a Zimbabwe military-affiliated company. The company has pumped $400 million into its Marange diamond field operations, leading some industry observers to say it could become the next De Beers.

A recent report by activist group Global Witness alleges that Anjin's ties to the army are extremely deep, with half of the company's shares held by Zimbabwean military lawyer Brigadier-General Charles Tarumbwa.

The company has been embroiled in numerous labor disputes since its founding two years ago, with workers launching industrial actions on eight occasions so far.

Anjin board member Munyaradzi Machacha has accused the staff of "being insincere with their employers," stating that Anjin has increased salaries on multiple occasions since February this year.

Anjin was also recently accused by finance minister Tendai Biti of shadowy dealings and failure to declare earnings to Treasury, compelling Machacha to declare last month that Anjin had remitted $30 million in diamond taxes to the Zimbabwe government since September.