The Chinese flooding Zimbabwe today are something else. They are distant, unfriendly and rather crude. Among African people, speaking English is a sign of education and refinement. A good number of the Chinese in Zimbabwe today can’t speak a word of English. Because they find it hard to communicate they keep to themselves and don’t socialise with locals. It is quite clear that they are here for one thing only: to do business. They are here to make as much money as possible and then go back home. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with making money per se. It is how that money is made which may be wrong.
We look upon the Chinese as traditional friends. They came to our aid during the struggle against colonialism. Chinese leaders who come to this country never fail to mention this special relationship. To most of us, that relationship is not a friendship between the Chinese Communist Party and Zanu (PF), but a relationship between the ordinary people of both countries.
The liberation war was not fought and won by Zanu (PF), as some people claim. It was fought by Zimbabweans long before Zanu (PF) came on to the scene. Therefore, the people of China did not help Zanu (PF) to win the war. They helped the people of Zimbabwe to win it. Zimbabwe is much more than Zanu (PF).
When our rulers came up with the Look East policy we were happy because we knew that our friend China is a very rich superpower. It is unfortunate that our leaders only seriously turned East after the international community turned their backs on us because of our human rights abuses, lack of justice and the breakdown of law and order. We had become a pariah state.
Furthermore, when China came to do business here we did not expect them to behave the way they are today. Their exploitative deeds are so obvious, even to our young children who have to wear ‘zhing-zhong’ clothes which don’t last. They don’t behave like friends at all. They are exploiting us. Their friendship does not add value to us – it seeks to make us poorer.
But all is not lost. There is still time for the government of China to turn around and establish a real relationship with the people of Zimbabwe to replace the present fake one. Inviting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, an equal partner in the Government of National Unity, was a step in the right direction. In the past, Chinese leaders only acknowledged President Mugabe and Zanu (PF) while totally ignoring Tsvangirai and the MDC-T as being part of the government. Wrapping up his visit to Beijing, Tsvangirai called on Chinese investors to continue setting up businesses in Harare, despite growing resentment from locals who accuse them of mistreating workers. He said Chinese investors were welcome on a ‘win-win’ basis. China has to do much in a short time in order to cover lost ground.
Speaking during a handover of computer equipment to parliament recently, the Chinese ambassador, Xian Shukang, said business people from his country, who are keen to invest in Zimbabwe, are jittery because of looming elections. They had better be jittery indeed.
They placed all their eggs in one basket by supporting and fraternising with Zanu (PF) only to the exclusion of all other Zimbabweans. The best they can do is to influence their Zanu (PF) friends to allow a peaceful, free and fair election. That way their investments, now and in future, will be welcome and safe in our country.
Our Chinese friends must also respect that we are a sovereign, non-aligned nation. To us, the international cold war ended decades ago. In order to be friends with China, or any other country for that matter, we don’t have to be enemies of the European Union, the United States or any other country. We are not fooled. We fought against colonialism and won. Colonialism is now part of our history. We can’t erase it. The culture of the colonialist is now also part of our culture. We can’t erase it no matter how much we lie to ourselves that we can.
Actually, there are more black Zimbabweans happily settled in the United Kingdom now than in any other country on earth. I don’t know of any Zimbabwean without kith and kin in the UK. There are also many white Zimbabweans there who would rather be in Zimbabwe today than in the UK. The sooner Zimbabwe establishes meaningful relationships with our former colonisers, the better. The present antiquated anti-West stance does not represent the feelings of ordinary Zimbabweans. It is part and parcel of the machinations of discredited leaders who are desperate to hold on to power. – [email protected]Post published in: Opinions & Analysis