Chinese Republic of Zimbabwe

President Mugabe dislikes Western powers for dictating policy to Africa. He famously advised ex-British PM Tony Blair to ‘keep your Britain.’ Britain obliged and took a step back. Enter China, enter the dragon.

Chinese company, Tsingham Steel has called on Zimbabwe to create an enabling environment, saying “There is need for favorable mining laws and MPs must come up with the requisite legislative framework in which investors are not afraid to inject their capital in Zimbabwe.”

Conflicting with government’s attempts to encourage value added exports, the firm asked that companies with smelters be permitted to export a portion of their chrome in raw form, which would obviously be purchased cheaper by Chinese importers. Tsingham Steel punctuated its demands by announcing its intention of constructing an industrial park in Zimbabwe – not very subtle carrot strategy!

The CEO of Industrial Commercial Bank of China has said ZimAsset can only work in the absence of corruption: “You cannot make an economy grow to higher levels without tackling corruption.”

Duty free trinkets

The Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe stated, more or less, that China does not play sugar daddy: “We don’t normally provide budgetary support to other countries, but we try to help Zimbabwe in our own way.”

Mugabe’s ministers have repeatedly visited China, begging for an ever decreasing aid package – First $30Billion, then $10Billion, $3Billion and recently $400Million – but every time Chinamasa’s delegation has returned with only trinkets from the duty free store.

What the senior citizens of Zanu PF will have learned – if old dogs ever learn new tricks – is that an investor by any other name is still an investor. Whether a so-called imperialist or ‘all weather friend,’ investors seldom inject hard-earned cash without asking pertinent questions.

Prodigal sons return

Job Sikhala and Joubert Mudzumwe have rejoined MDC-T. The return of the feisty Sikhala will undoubtedly boost morale at a time when infighting threatens to undermine the party. He marked his return by declaring that the MDC-T should remove Zanu PF now, rather than at the 2018 election, in order to save the masses from starvation.

Cynics will quote the old adage – ‘you never go back.’ Reunions are only workable if there is compromise on either side. Sikhala is still the same man he was in 2005 when he defected and Tsvangirai will not have changed either. There were obviously reasons – spoken and unspoken – leading to the split and unless those have been addressed, old squabbles will reemerge.

Grace banishes the hoi polloi

The flood victims of Tokwe-Mukosi who were relocated have met with new troubles. Fresh floods have washed away their tents. A South African charity, Gift of The Givers, has donated R2million.

In the first two months of this year, 91,000 cases of diarrhea and dysentery – 22 of them fatal – were reported countrywide.

A fortnight ago, Mugabe and his wife, Grace, who for some reason insists on being called ‘Amai,’ gobbled millions of dollars to celebrate their daughter’s nuptials. A week earlier, Mugabe spent $1M just to show the world that he still had the lungs to extinguish 90 candles. Not content with just one birthday bash, Mugabe also had a birthday luncheon, where all his enforcers – the generals, who will ‘only salute a president with liberation war credentials’ – took turns to shower him with praise. Grace, stiff-backed as ever, sat by his side.

When the First Lady finally extricated herself from the marathon of extravagant parties, she dispatched a contingent of cops to evict scores of families living in an area near her farm in Mazowe, to enable expansion of her venture. The evictees – 300 people – are now without shelter. An independent news crew filming the evictions had its camera seized and the evidence promptly deleted. Such turmoil is seen in movies, depicting so-called anarchy states, banana republics, where the security forces rule.

The displacement of citizens matters little. After all, the elections have come and gone. What matters now is that the picturesque view surrounding the estate of ‘Amai Grace’ is no longer spoiled by the presence of the hoi polloi.

Monkey see, monkey d

Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede admits that corruption is rife at his office. “We have some of our officers involved in corrupt activities in the issuing of important national documents like passports… we are calling on the police to arrest the culprits,” he said.

This is hardly a surprise. Monkey see, monkey do. Mudede’s juniors have been taught well.

The RG’s office was asked by MPs to account for the $3,5M it retains every month from revenue earned. Perm-sec for home affairs, Melusi Matshiya, responded on the RG’s behalf, saying the money was used to repair toilets. Those must be some pretty expensive lavatories.

Strangely, none of the parliamentarians took the opportunity to ask the RG when we can expect to see the voter’s roll.

Chaos at Chiadzwa

Despite President Mugabe’s claim of performance-based governance, it emerges that neither Patrick Chinamasa (finance minister) nor Walter Chidhakwa (mines) know the revenue figures of the mining firms operating in Chiadzwa. According to a report in the Sunday Mail, Zimbabweans would like government to shut down Chiadzwa and introduce policies to ensure accountability and transparency. The chaos in the mining sector suits the Zanu PF government. Amid the confusion, they can enrich themselves. Apart from his usual inability to tackle corruption, Mugabe will have to navigate a legal minefield because of contractual agreements between the state and the mining companies.

Presidential Rhetoric

At his belated birthday luncheon, Mugabe revealed that he received reports of a government minister demanding bribes from investors. The fact that Mugabe waited (as he did with the Masimirembwa case) for a state event before announcing this, gives rise to the notion that his revelation was merely intended to please the restive citizenry. It appears as if he felt pressure to make some sort of important announcement.

“Oh, the television cameras are on me. I must make some sort of earth-shattering announcement. I know! Let me mention that corruption thing.”

The citizens would have been more impressed with news of an actual arrest and dismissal of the culprit from cabinet. – Till next week, my pen is capped. [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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