Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa travelled to Iran last weekend for a four day visit in which he signed a cooperation agreement with the Iranian Defence Minister. The visit came just a week after Chinese military generals visited Harare.
Details of the exact nature of the ‘bilateral’ deals with China and Iran have not been disclosed but Iran’s Defence Minister gave a hint went by saying: “We are ready to reinvigorate Zimbabwe's defence power.”
This has fuelled speculation, given the claim last week by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that army chiefs were planning a coup if Mugabe lost elections. Others believe Iran is trying to mine Zimbabwe’s untapped uranium deposits, crucial raw material for its controversial nuclear programme.
Last year it was reported Mugabe appealed to China and Russia for protection should a future disputed election be taken to the United Nations Security Council. Mugabe made the appeal while on an official visit to Beijing in November.
As for the Chinese generals who were in the country last week, it’s believed their presence might have been to reinforce an existing ‘diamonds for weapons’ deal with Mugabe’s regime.
Commenting on the visit, MDC-T MP Eddie Cross said: “I think it is important to note that this delegation were given the full treatment – a convoy of luxury vehicles, motor bike outriders, flags flying and although they were here for three days they did not call on the Prime Minister or see any MDC officials.”
Cross said: “China is playing a very serious game here and this sort of exchange reinforces the view that they are in fact backing the worst elements in the old regime and the moves towards some sort of end game that involves violating the GPA and the democratic process.”
In his article ‘China, our small friends of little benefit’, political commentator Dr Raymond Chamba says: “China presents to unpopular regimes a complete package of infrastructure investment, trade and political support at the UN and the Zimbabwean engagement is no different.”
Chamba argues that China is not interested in the development of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources but in massive extraction of these resources for its own use, while being a generous supplier of small arms and munitions – a practice that has fuelled many African wars. – SW Radio Africa NewsPost published in: News