Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Chinese mega deals to "leapfrog Zimbabwe's development" - or to sugar coat the bitter pill W Mukori

“Chinese mega deals will help Zimbabwe develop, ‘leapfrogging 18 years of isolation!” screamed the headlines!

Why has China allowed Zimbabwe to fall behind by 18 years, to start with? After all Zimbabwe – China relationship dates back to liberation struggle years and Mugabe has had his “look East” policy since the late 1990s!

In 1995 to 1999, Zimbabwe had the last of two five-year IMF and WB sponsored Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). The programmes were meant to revive the country’s flagging economy but failed to do so. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s then president, blamed the failure on IMF and the WB for imposing unworkable programmes on Zimbabwe!

Zimbabwe had accepted the two ESAPs as a condition for further financial assistance from the two Brentwood financial institutions and other Western institutions. Harare did not implement most of the reforms proposed in the programmes, most of which were common sense and logical. It was therefore rich President Mugabe to blame others when he was the author of his own down fall!

In a typical Robert Mugabe move, he announced that Zimbabwe would not be repay its IMF and WB debts. This was a pre-emptive move, of IMF and WB announcement stopping all financial assistance to Zimbabwe for failing to service her existing debts! Mugabe wanted the cutting of financial assistance from the West to be seen not as punishment for failing to repay his debts but as an act of defiance on his part!

Mugabe followed the IMF tussle with his “Look East!” policy to underline he was breaking lies with the West in favour of new ties with the East-block countries. He singled out the Chinese whom he called Zimbabwe’s “all-weather friends” although the two countries had not been that close until then.

The Chinese had helped train and arm Mugabe’s freedom fighters during the war for independence but as soon as Zimbabwe gained her independence Mugabe had openly flirted with the West. China’s economic fortunes in 2000 were lot better than they were in 1980! Mugabe was nothing more than an opportunistic old lover presenting an old flame wilted flowers nicked a grave.

Of course, the Chinese were not to taken in by Mugabe’s tomfoolery and clumsy flattery. It is no exaggeration to say China has earned billions of dollars in diamonds, gold and other minerals and raw materials and from selling its products in Zimbabwe. In return Zimbabwe has lost most of her industries which could not compete with the cheap Chinese import and earn very little else. Other African countries who have ties with China have certainly far better fared than Zimbabwe has done.

“We know that while China has stood by us in recent years and has granted loans and other forms of economic support to Zimbabwe, it should be a big surprise to many that that is actually not as much as other African countries with weaker political and historical ties with China enjoy,” reported The Herald.

“For example, Zimbabwe does not feature in the top 10 destinations of direct Chinese investment from 2003 to 2017. Egypt is number one, followed by Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Angola, Niger, Zambia and Morocco.

“In addition, Zimbabwe does not feature among the top six recipients of loans from China Eximbank from 2000 to 2015. Ethiopia is number one, followed by Angola, Kenya, Sudan, Cameroon and DRC. 

“These figures are more than enough evidence that although there has been much talk about increasing economic co-operation between Zimbabwe and China since 2000, the relations hadn't reached a stage where our African neighbours have attained.

“We suspect that the key reason why this is so is that our politics in recent years had become too toxic even for our closest of friends,” The Herald reasoned.

China stopped granting Zimbabwe loans for the same reason IMF stopped – Zimbabwe was failing to repay her debts!

When President Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe following the November 2017 coup, he has spent most of the time wooing western – not eastern – investors just as Mugabe had done after independence. Sadly, for President Mnangagwa no western investors have answered his “Zimbabwe is open for business!” clarion call.

Western investors have shied away from Zimbabwe since Mugabe’s fall-out with IMF in 1999 because his regime was considered a gang of lawless thugs. President Mnangagwa had a chance to prove the regime had changed by keeping his promise to hold free, fair and credible elections. He has made the promise, but it is clear he has no intention of doing so.

It is now clear to President Mnangagwa that he will have to look somewhere else and not the west for Zimbabwe’s economic revival and thus, like Mugabe, he too has turned to China. Poor China, another bunch of withered flowers nick from grave!

“They (Chinese) want more action still on corruption. They are asking why they should throw good money after bad,” said Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

He was commenting on high powered Zimbabwe delegation of 88 business CEO and 10 ministers plus the hangs-on accompanying President Mnangagwa on a four-day state visit to China. Their mission is to secure the mega deals.

“And they feel they were treated very unkindly over mining rights (Zanu PF seized the Chinese run Anjin Investments, a diamond mining company).

“Who bites the hand of the one feeding you? In traditional Chinese manners, that was churlish behaviour. President Xi is a very hard man.”

"It is not from the “mega deal” benevolence of the secretive Chinese that Zimbabwe should expect her economic recovery and prosperity but from the regard of the profit of honest and open investor and banker." To paraphrase the great economist, Adam Smith.

Indeed, the Chinese will be offering Zanu PF the usual help to rig the coming elections and thus make sure Zimbabwe stays within China’s sphere of influence. The “mega deals” China will offer will be nothing but a sugar coating to make it easier for the populous to swallow the bitter pill of another rig elections and the years of the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF misrule to follow.

Of all the foreign nations, China has been Zanu PF’s most important partner in dragging the nation into this political and economic hell-on-earth we are stuck in today. Anyone who therefore believes that China will now help us get out of this hell-hole much less “leapfrog 18 years!” in naïve!


  1. @ Nobleman Runyanga

    "This is because no person in his or her right senses would criticise efforts to revive the country's economy after nearly two decades of stagnation," you write.

    I agree 100% "no person in his or her senses would criticise efforts to revive the country's economy after nearly two decades of stagnation", as you rightly said. What I am questioning is the nonsense that the Chinese are going to bankroll our economic recovery.

    For the last two decades Zimbabwe has had the Chinese as our partners following Robert Mugabe's 1999 "Look East" policy after the tyrant broke all ties with the West. We all know China has always played a major role in Zimbabwe throughout these years especially in the wholesale looting of our resources and in propping up the Zanu PF dictatorship.

    China has clearly done nothing for two decades to prevent the economic stagnation. The question one must ask is why have the Chinese done nothing all these two decades?

    It is no secret that China is working with Zanu PF to help the regime rig this year's elections as it has done consistently for the last 38 years. Are you sure the mega deals China is offering are not meant to make it easier for Zanu PF to rig the elections and make it easily for the people to swallow the bitter pill of yet another rigged election and the years of Zanu PF misrule to follow?

    China has worked hard with Zanu PF to create and retain the de facto one-party dictatorship that has ruled Zimbabwe and dragged us into this hell-hole. China has an invested interest in making sure the Zanu PF dictatorship survive at all cost.

    Zimbabwe's economic revival is dependent on the country dismantling the one-party dictatorship and China's only interest here is to make sure the dictatorship survive!

  2. Masvingo/A Masvingo based Non Governmental Organisation(NGO) has strongly condemned the intimidation of villagers by traditional leaders.
    Kraal head Mudemba Chatindi of ward 27, Masvingo South Constituency openly declared allegiance to Zanu PF last weekend.
    We have known that this is the norm and yet bury our heads in the sand. There will be no free, fair and credible elections as long as most of the voters in the rural areas are forced to live in fear of harassment or worse if they do not vote for Zanu PF!

    Those opposition politicians, NGOs, etc. who refuse to listen to SADC leaders' advice not to take part in the elections until the reforms are implemented are the real criminals here who are letting the ordinary people down by dragging the nation into meaningless elections. The opposition politicians are doing it out of greed and the rest are doing it out of stupidity.

    It is insane to keep contesting flawed elections expecting to win rigged elections, especially after 38 years of rigged elections!

  3. MDC leaders have always shown they have spirit when it comes to fighting over gravy train seats but ask them what they will do if elected into power it is lights out! They still call themselves members of the Movement for Democratic Change, ask them what democratic change the party has brought about in all its 20 years on the political stage and, once again, it is light out!

    These elections are going to be rigged because not even one democratic reform was implemented when the country had the golden opportunity to do so. MDC leaders failed to get even one reform implemented in five years of the GNU. And now, it is the same idiots who are dragging the nation into these flawed elections.

    Nelson Chamisa says he has "stringent measures to stop Zanu PF rigging the elections!" It is all nonsense, of course! The idiot has no clue how to stop the vote rigging.

    If there was ever a time when the people of Zimbabwe need to wise up, it is now. Forget the nonsense coming from the MDC and focus on demanding the implementation of the reforms BEFORE elections. If Zanu PF fails to implement the reforms before the elections, then the elections must be declared null and void!

    After 38 years of meaningless rigged elections; enough is enough!

  4. Alliance for the People's Agenda (APA) Presidential candidate Dr Nkosana Moyo says Zimbabwe is in a mess economically because it is being run by 3rd rated leaders who have no clue on how economies are run.

    Well Dr Moyo is right there, only 3rd rated leaders can turn a nation that had all the prospect of becoming the South Korea of Africa into the poorest nation in Africa in a few decades. Once upon a time, Zimbabwe was able to produce enough to feed its own people with plenty left over to feed the region; for the last 20 years the nation has relied in imported food aid. We are starving in the land which, for all intend and purposes, is the Garden of Eden! A testimonial to our political leaders' breath-taking incompetence!

    Zanu PF leaders have certainly proven beyond all doubt that they are 3rd rate leaders in everything they do. Still, Dr Moyo cannot deny that Zanu PF leaders have outwitted their political opponents again and again. Zanu PF has blatantly cheated and rigged elections, right before our eyes. How anyone in the opposition who still want to contest such flawed elections is the greatest mystery of our time.

    If Zanu PF leaders a "3rd rated leaders"; what rating would you say you are Dr Moyo, given you are being outwitted with the 3rd rated leaders!!!

  5. Ever since Mugabe had his fight with IMF and WB in the late 1990s he adopted his "Look East" policy and one has to ask why the Chinese have taken 20 years to decide to help Zimbabwe? All along the Chinese have been quick off the mark to join in the wholesale looting of Zimbabwe's resources and they have never been found wanting when it comes to supplying Zimbabwe's weapons and to help Zanu PF rig the elections!

    We must be certain of one thing - China is a friend of Zanu PF but not of the long suffering ordinary Zimbabweans!

  6. Yes we all know how Mnangagwa has done Mugabe's dirtiest of dirty jobs for 37 years. Is that what you call "swiftly and silently sweeping Bob aside"?

    If the Chinese give ED the cash to ease the cash crisis you can be certain, it is only meant to last during the election period as soon as Zanu PF is back in power the problems will be back to where we started.

    Zimbabwe has had its LOOK EAST policy for 20 years now and yet the Chinese have been slow to help. What has change this year to make them want to help?

  7. @ Editor Dumisani Muleya
    "The signs are not encouraging though. Judging by Mnangagwa and government apologists' responses, there is more denialism than political will to address the issues. For example, Mnangagwa denies the military has been involved in politics, yet that is common cause. This approach will not help matters, but complicate the situation. What is needed is that government should be serious about reforms and credible elections. Mnangagwa must make important calls on this and bite the bullet. That will help bridge the diplomatic gulf with the US rather than wallowing in denial," you said.
    "In medicine, it is easy to understand the difference between treating the symptoms of a disease and curing a condition. That is what government must also learn to appreciate."
    What you are saying Mr Editor, makes a lot of sense but what you must remember is that holding free, fair and credible elections makes sense to all those with the common sense to see the "Dead end!" sign to rigged elections. President Mnangagwa and his Junta friends have got where they are today by rigging elections, it is impossible for them to change now.

    They staged a coup, a more serious and in your face act of treason, to hang on to power. Rigging the elections is still an act of treason but more the iron fist in a velvet glove especially if the rigging is limited to the subtle acts of cheating and leave out the physical violence.

    President Mnangagwa and his Junta are going to hold the elections with not even one reform in place because it is in their nature to rig elections. Nelson Chamisa and his MDC friends are going to contest the elections regardless of the process being flawed because they are greedy and all they are after is the few gravy train seats Zanu PF gives away as bait.

    The real challenge is with the ordinary Zimbabweans; are we smart enough to see the folly of contesting flawed elections and courageous enough to demand the elections by declared null and void!

  8. This is just kicking the can down the road! Zimbabwe has amassed huge debts not just with the Chinese but with anyone who would lend her money. The reason why we have a mountain of debt is because gross mismanagement and corruption. Cancelling the debt is great but unless we do something to end the underlaying causes, the gross mismanagement and corruption, it will not be long before another mountain of debt starts to appear again.

    The only cure to the misrule is to demand the implementation of the democratic reforms so we can have free, fair and credible elections.

    We are in this economic and political mess because we have been stuck for the last 38 years with a corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF dictatorship.

    The Chinese, out of their ow selfish interest, have propped up the Zanu PF dictatorship all these years giving the regime loans when others would not, arming the regime to the teeth for the sole purpose of oppressing the masses, bankrolling the regime's campaigns, etc. China has done all this for the purpose of making Zimbabwe dependent on China and to loot the nation's resources.

    China is writing off Zimbabwe's debt now for no other reason than to stall the drive for democratic change that has been building up all these years.

    We have 90% unemployment rate, 3/4 of our people are living on US$1.00 or less a day, etc. We are not going to address these problems by cancelling the Chinese debt alone but by addressing the underlaying cause of bad governance. The Chinese are offering the cancellation of debt and in return they want the Zanu PF dictatorship to remain in power. We would be fools to accept this offer!

  9. @ Nkomah Isaac

    Ms Misihairambwi-Mushonga is not appealing to the most primitive, primordial instincts, the very mentality that has dragged us into the hell-hole we are in today. She does not want the voters to use their intellect, to understand why Zimbabwe is in the mess, because they will immediately see that she, together with her fellow MDC politicians, are part and parcel of why we are in this mess. MDC leaders failed to implement even one democratic reform designed to end Zanu PF rigging the elections.

    Zimbabwe needs quality leaders who understand the challenges the nation is facing and can come up with the working solutions. The suggestion that quality leaders has something to do with gender, tribe, race, etc. is absurd. If being a woman made Ms Misihairambwi-Musgonga any superior to her male MDC colleagues then why did she and the few female MDC MPs and cabinet minister failed to get even one reform implemented. After all getting those reforms implemented was not a collective effort as the proposed reforms needed to come from one individual.

    Zimbabwe will never escape out of the hell-hole Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs have landed this nation by having such utterly useless leaders like Mai Misihairambwi whose instinct is to drag the nation into the mental dark ages and turn our backs to enlightenment, reason and logic.

    We want quality leaders and Mai Misihairambwi knows that she has no leadership qualities to offer and so she wants to pollute the voters' mind by encouraging them to consider gender as a leadership quality! She is just mudding the waters to take advantage of the brainwashed voters!

  10. Zimbabwe owes international lenders more than $10bn in both principal debt and arrears.
    The country's domestic debt has also been ballooning and is estimated to be more than $6bn.
    This has seen the country struggling to get new funding from international lenders such as the IMF and the World Bank.
    China itself has also been reluctant to fund Zimbabwe after the country failed to repay a $60m debt to China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, known as Sinosure.

    China knows as well as everyone that Zimbabwe's economic meltdown was caused by decades of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption. It is no secret that China was one of the foreign countries that has benefited from the rampant corruption over the last 38 years. It is no secret too that China has been helping Zanu PF rig the elections to stay in power for no other reason than for it to continue the looting!

    It is not rocket science to see that China is not cancelling its $60 million debt with Zimbabwe out of the generosity of its heart but to perpetuate the Zanu PF dictatorship. No doubt China will be bankrolling Zanu PF's election campaign, as it has always done. Talk of a Superpower interfering in Zimbabwe's election, it does not get more blatant than this.

    The people of Zimbabwe have a chance to end the Zanu PF dictatorship and they must step up their demands to have these flawed elections declared null and void!

  11. President Emmerson Mnangagwa returns home from China tomorrow without the US$1,5 billion liquidity rescue package, which government desperately needs, although he managed to secure funding for infrastructural projects and elevated relations between the two countries to a higher strategic level.
    Sources close to the Chinese embassy said during his visit, Mnangagwa clearly learnt that China is not the proverbial Santa Claus and that everything which Zimbabwe gets must be on the basis of commercial arrangement and sustained strategic engagement for mutual benefit.
    There is no doubt that China is not Santa Claus but there is also no doubt China's dealings with Zimbabwe are above board commercial arrangements.

    China knows as well as everyone that Zimbabwe's economic meltdown was caused by decades of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption. It is no secret that China was one of the foreign countries that has benefited from the rampant corruption over the last 38 years. It is no secret too that China has been helping Zanu PF rig the elections to stay in power for no other reason than for it to continue the looting!

    It is not rocket science to see why China has cancelled its $60 million debt with Zimbabwe. It is not out of the generosity of its heart but to perpetuate the Zanu PF dictatorship. No doubt China will be bankrolling Zanu PF's election campaign, as it has always done. Talk of a Superpower interfering in Zimbabwe's election, it does not get more blatant than this.

    The people of Zimbabwe have a chance to end the Zanu PF dictatorship and they must step up their demands to have these flawed elections declared null and void!

  12. The one thing the Chinese are keen to see happen in Zimbabwe is for Zanu PF to rig the elections and stay in power. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long dispensed with the niceties of holding election; the people do as they are told period. For the last 38 years the CCP has helped Zanu PF rig Zimbabwe elections; this is the one area China has been ruthlessly honest and unwavering in its dealings with Zanu PF.
    The Zanu PF commiserate department was one segment of the high powered delegation who accompanied President Mnangagwa on the State visit to China. The huge support they received will not be to make sure the Zimbabwe elections are free, fair and credible.
    China has not only been looting Zimbabwe’s resources but it has also helped impose the Zanu PF dictatorship on the nation. If we are serious about ending the Zanu PF dictatorship then we must first end China’s strangle hold on the country. The CCP will always use China’s economic influence to prop up Zanu PF at all cost!

  13. @silungisn
    Millions of ordinary Zimbabweans are out of work, millions live on US$1.00 a day, over 30 000 innocent Zimbabweans have been murdered in cold blood, etc., etc. I have never heard you insult the corrupt and murderous thugs responsible for this but you will insult those who dare demand an end to all this madness. Well, we all know whose interests you stand for!