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China, West trap Mugabe

by Staff reporter
01 Sep 2016 at 07:08hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is a trapped man, having now presided over Zimbabwe's indebtedness to both friend and foe, an economist has said.

University of Cape Town Business Graduate School lecturer, Mills Soko, told CTV's John Matisson that China had now joined Western countries in demanding political and economic reforms from Mugabe before any bail-out package could be considered.

"Mugabe looks more dependent than ever, he is indebted to China as well as the West. Zimbabwe is bankrupt and has run out of cash," he said.

"China has made it clear it will not extend any rescue package until the issue of political succession has been sorted. There is also the issue of Zanu PF renewal and China has made it clear there is need for revitalising the party."

Zimbabwe's problems, according to Soko, stem from "a dreadful governance" situation that should be addressed, but Mugabe remains "a barrier even to reformists within Zanu PF".

He said the Look East Policy had allowed China to increase its economic footprint in Zimbabwe, but Mugabe had since defaulted in paying loans amounting to $1,5 billion.

Soko said China had given indications that it would accept Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Mugabe's heir, but the internal struggles for power within Zanu PF made the situation murky.

"It is widely believed that the Chinese would prefer Mnangagwa. They have a long history of working with him after he trained in that country in the 1960s. Mnangagwa has a chequered history and was involved in unsavoury incidents in the country, including the Matabeleland massacres," he said.

"He has served in Cabinet since 1980 and is very close to the security. Of course, he is positioning himself as a reformer. There several interests that are coalescing around him, especially the military, but there is opposition to this from G40, led by the likes of [politburo members] Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, who have teamed up with the First Lady (Grace Mugabe). Mnangagwa is in a good position, but it will not be an easy ride."

Soko claimed Mugabe's recent moves to seek assistance from international finance institutions represent a "humiliation".

"It represents a realisation that the Look East Policy has failed. It was designed to counter Western influence and pressure and now he has gone back to these Western countries, whom he owes in excess of $1,8 billion," he said.
"This is a very clear case of humiliation on the part of Mugabe having to see his Finance minister (Patrick Chinamasa) traverse Western capitals with a begging bowl seeking support from the West."

Soko said Chinese leader, Xi Jinping has seemingly taken a hardline stance against the Zimbabwean strongman.

"China has made it clear that Zimbabwe needs to find her way out of the current morass. China has also become more assertive under Xi," he said.

Soko said South Africa had an important role to play, as Zimbabwe's neighbour and largest trading partner.
"South Africa has to engage to address issues related to political succession and economic reforms to ensure Zimbabwe comes back to sound footing," he said.

"We are dealing with a failing State. With the security situation failing, including the (late) payment of soldiers and police, we have a serious situation. We saw such a scenario in the then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) under Mobutu (Sese Seko) and it led to his ousting."

Source - newsday
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