Chinese money trees

If the President thought money hung from trees in China, he must be regretting his recent wastefulness – 30 of his own cows slaughtered to feed delegates at the Zanu (PF) youth congress, another 20 head of cattle butchered to feed the women’s congress, courtesy of Emmerson Mnangagwa and a lorry-load of grain from Joice Mujuru for the same event.

China had previously refused to fund ZimAsset and after several visits to Beijing. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had been denied even a mouldy crust of bread – the standard donation given to a pesky beggar. Hoping to impress China, Mugabe badmouthed the West and went into outbursts about arresting corrupt government ministers – something he has failed to do since way back when Kumbirai Kangai looted GMB.

“Corruption, corruption is part of us to make a choice between right and wrong. What is the right thing for us to do? The ethics of our actions. First, your society must be well-schooled on what is right and what is wrong… if you detect people who have committed theft, who have defrauded an organisation or company, they must be punished by being sent to prison. We send them to prison. And those in the leadership must lead by example,” he pontificated.

What a strange utterance by Mugabe. Exactly a year ago, he threatened to deal with Goodwills Masimirembwa for allegedly swindling $6M from a foreign investor. Mugabe later appointed the same Masimirembwa to head the CMED. What is worse, Frederick Shava, Zimbabwe’s envoy to China, welcomed Mugabe to Beijing. Shava was fingered in the Willowvale scandal of the 1980s – when he was convicted of perjury during the Sandura Commission and given a prison sentence, Mugabe saved him with an emergency presidential pardon.

Today he is the country’s chief representative in China. Mugabe’s speech was all for the benefit of the Chinese. He allowed corruption to fester for so long that if he were to arrest shady ministers he might be left without a cabinet.

Mugabe was under the illusion that China would render financial assistance, with no questions asked. “Whereas Europe and America, when they give little funding assistance to countries they always attach conditions,” he said.

Western donors often demand improvement of human rights as a precondition for financial assistance. But even China has its own preconditions. Sources close to finance minister Chinamasa say that on one of his many fruitless visits to the East, China wanted bankable business proposals, rather than a mere policy pronouncement, ZimAsset.

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