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Will China save Zimbabwe?

02 Dec 2015 at 11:49hrs | Views
I think that there is this wide misconception in Zimbabwe that since the Chinese President has visited, we will see an economic turnaround spurred by Chinese investment. Nothing can be further from the truth.

It is about time that Africans realise that Chinese aid is not intended to impact recipient state's governance or sovereignty in any positive manner whatsoever. It is primarily intended to benefit China and China alone.

It has been proven that China's agenda of non-interference with domestic affairs has been particularly directed to African states where it will produce the most economic and political benefits for the Chinese. This agenda is always welcome by African leaders who seek to remain in power, especially through repressing competition since China will turn a blind eye to domestic issues.

It is in this backdrop that we must appreciate any interest of China in failed states such as Zimbabwe. China has clearly remained unconcerned on the call for democratic reforms in Zimbabwe and has, through the years, been a spectator to ZANU (PF) political repression of Zimbabwean citizens. This appeals to dictators as they are left alone to do as they please while China provides a helping hand due to historical ties.

Clearly China does not care about our freedom and continues to strengthen the hand of pariah states in Africa while purporting to respect their sovereignty. It has been found that actually, Chinese aid may influence political violence through bolstering the capacity of the repressive central state to engage in repressive violence against competitors and civilians, in order to secure the regime's dominance.

A working paper on "Chinese Aid and Africa's Pariah States" by Roudabeh Kishi and Clionadh Raleigh of the Department of Geography, University of Sussex  boldly states that "There is evidence that those African states which tend to receive a higher proportion of Chinese aid exhibit weak rule of law, forging an environment in which Chinese economic initiatives can flourish without barriers. By providing resources to state leaders who are not afraid to use repression as a means to quell competition", China cannot therefore be said to the friend of the millions of Africans who today must suffer oppression and poverty because of predatory leadership.

The continued condemnation of the conditions of aid the West by Zimbabwe and its reframing of any Western involvement  as a "regime change agenda by imperialists" has played into the hands of the East who could certainly have worse motives. The sad reality is that Africans in their desperation have chosen to ignore the fact that China has a grand strategy for Africa while Africa has no strategy for China at all. African leaders are being naïve and expedient in order to retain political power at the expense of creating sustainable home grown economic development policies.

There is no doubt that Zimbabwe has significant opportunity for investors, but we have seen that where China invests in Zimbabwe, the deals are not only opaque but result in no direct positive social impact for locals. Added to this, has been the hidden environmental cost of China's projects which continue to adversely affect our land scape particularly in the mining sector.

It will be only when we can set the agenda for China and any other investor in Zimbabwe that we can begin to benefit from them but this will not happen as long as we remain a weak partner without own capital resources. This is most unlikely to happen as long as our politicians are compromised and there is no leadership that puts the country first.

I think we are going to be disappointed with China. The expectations of an economic rebound spurred on by Chinese investment will therefore remain a wish and an illusion that will continue to be sold to all and sundry by a ZANU (PF) repressive regime which has run out of tangible economic solutions.

However, the biggest favour China could do for us now is to insist that Mugabe retires so we can get on with reviving our economy.

Source - Vince Musewe
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