China’s clear message to Mugabe
Analysis by Itai Dzamara
President Robert Mugabe obviously went to China in the hope of getting an urgent financial rescue package to try and ameliorate the economic disaster in the country, but is likely to come back with no money at all.
Mugabe is set to return home with a briefcase full of papers, representing what state media are packaging and marketing as ‘mega deals’. China has made two major statements and sent messages to both Mugabe and the rest of the world.
First, China has communicated that it shall not give Mugabe the urgently needed financial rescue package, but rather takes the opportunity to point him to the direction he should have been taking for the 34 years he has presided over Zimbabwe – doing proper business, not only with China, but the rest of the world.
China, like everyone else, knows what Mugabe desperately wants now, and is in good stead to provide the money. The Zanu PF government has lately been harping about a US$4 billion financial package it was negotiating with Beijing.
It appears Mugabe is returning home without any money.
That is a very illustrative and eloquent message from China. The Asian giant does not find any basis for sacrificing money towards the Mugabe regime and is only interested in pouncing at the immense business opportunities freely presented by the other party.
That will have sealed Mugabe and his government’s fate with regards pervasive negative perception, about especially confidence and trust in their management of funds.
The Chinese, like many Zimbabweans and the rest of the world, do not trust the Mugabe regime to the extent that, despite the clearly demonstrated desire for accessing Zimbabwe’s resources and capitalising on cheap business opportunities, they are not willing to provide money.
China has been in and around Zimbabwe long enough to know the type of corruption, mismanagement and plunder system that Mugabe presides over – into which they would not risk putting their money.
The very sly and cunning Chinese would have known from their own experiences how in Harare, huge amounts of money just disappear through the hands of Mugabe and his various teams involved in the national looting and plunder.
China has had its hand in the barbaric looting and plunder of Marange diamonds during the last couple of years. The Chinese certainly know very well, all the avenues and basis through which the Mugabe system mismanages and loots the national economy – and would not put their money there.
China is fully aware of Mugabe regime’s very notorious record of defaulting on servicing loans at the IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions.
Being now a very powerful and key player in the global economy, China certainly has vital and strategic links with these institutions, which obviously influenced their decision about not giving Mugabe money.
There may never be any sane person that would decide to give money to a country leadership that has presided over consistent ballooning of national debt to more than US$10 billion, despite having huge endowment of resources and capacity.
Mugabe, very desperately tried to lure the Chinese into a deal of buying the whole of Zimbabwe in the hope to get quick money, for the urgent situation. China accepted the deal but dribbled past Mugabe. China has agreed the offer of the whole of Zimbabwe but will not be foolish to pay for pies in the air.
Rather, and which forms the second key statement and message from the Chinese, they capitalised and have put themselves in a position to virtually take over Zimbabwe’s business and investment opportunities in totality, if and when the conditions permit.
Zimbabwe may as well become some Gounzhu-Zimbo province, because Mugabe’s so-called ‘mega deals’ essentially invite China to run the show through projects spread across all sectors, from energy, water, transport, mining, infrastructure development and even tourism.
The Chinese surely know this is too good to be true and real, but also know that they lose nothing. They know the situation further worsening in Zimbabwe, which hampers conducting of business. China knows the crisis of political and governance instability, deepening under Mugabe’s watch, and what it does to the investment and business climate.
So, the Chinese shall go to sleep smiling from ear to ear, for having taken Mugabe to the cleaners as well as positioned themselves to economically colonise Zimbabwe. The Chinese shall certainly take their time to meticulously assess and plan to roll out only those projects they are guaranteed maximum returns and less risk.
They may take another year without anything tangible out of the briefcase of ‘mega deals’ taking off. Therein lies the hollowness of Mugabe’s deals and the fallacy of hype about trying to portray them as a major turning point. The Mugabe regime urgently and desperately needs financial rescue package to avert a disaster that could ultimately scare the Chinese from attempting even one ‘mega’ project.
The Chinese are aware of that and have played it smart. They have nothing to lose and can wait and see forever. They only move when assured of maximum opportunity to do what they are masters at – reap huge benefits through using cheap labour, underhand deals and corrupting the system.
The Chinese are not new to playing it that way in Zimbabwe and shall relish the opportunities of going for the kill, yet again. On his part, Mugabe shall return home with briefcase of papers, which will not help get money currently needed to pay civil servants.
His finance minister shall immediately report about the challenge of dwindling options for borrowing and headaches over the huge national debt. Mugabe shall get more reports of company closures – such as Zimplats’ recent announcement to close one of its mines.
Mugabe’s heap of papers representing ‘mega deals’ shall be dumped to join their brothers and sisters that have gathered dust for 34 years – and thereby know of their likely fate. The heaps of Mugabe’s Chinese papers shall get an indication of what await them from many that symbolise a consistent story.
These include pies in the air on Kunzvi Dam, Tokwe Mukosi Dam, Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Project, Hwange Thermal Power Project, Kariba Hydro Power upgrade, Harare-Chitungwiza railway line project, Gideon Gono’s jatropha ‘mega’ project, Chinhoyi diesel ‘mega’ project, and so forth.
Mugabe has been signing ‘mega deals’ for 34 years but with very little to show for the papers, in today’s run down and grossly under-developed Zimbabwe. The Chinese are drooling at the free opportunities to pounce at that, but are smart enough to play safe and lose nothing to Mugabe, who has attempted to sell pies in the air to his ‘friends’.
China has done to Mugabe what the rest of the world has been doing, and would have done, further debunking the Zanu PF regime’s delusional thinking of China being ‘an all weather’ friend to the extent it would just pump money into a den of thieves and corrupt gangs.
In conclusion, after failing to get what he wanted – money – Mugabe may already be thinking of urinating on the heaps of paper in his briefcase. He has an impeccable record of such behaviour. The Chinese are aware of that but have played it safe.