Urge Mugabe to resign, China told

HARARE - China must persuade President Robert Mugabe to step down and hand over power as part of strategies to prevent a potential civil war and protect the Asian economic giant’s over $10 billion investment in Zimbabwe, a top Chinese expert has said.

Beijing Normal University School of Social Development and Public Policy lecturer Wang Xinsong last week warned China to tread carefully when dealing with the fragile State, which could be thrown into chaos if President Robert Mugabe dies in office.

This comes as market watchers contend that although Zanu PF insists Mugabe will be its presidential candidate in the next elections in 2018, there’s a growing belief that the 92-year-old’s rule is nearing its end.
As Mugabe — who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and presided over an economic meltdown that has left an estimated 95 percent of the workforce jobless and driven as many as 3,5 million people into exile — enters his twilight stage, the country is facing rising poverty and protests.

A power struggle in the ruling party to succeed him pits one faction (G40) backing his wife Grace and another, Team Lacoste, coalescing around Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy chief.
Xinsong said letting G40 and Team Lacoste fight each other in a post-Mugabe scenario “would be too risky,” hence the need for smooth power transfer.

“Rather, through negotiation and economic leverage, China may try to ensure a peaceful power transition while the aging president is still active enough to make such an important decision. The question is who will receive China’s support. Some reports argue that Mnangagwa, who received his ideological and military training in Beijing and Nanjing in the 1960s, may be China’s preference, but at this moment, the black box is still closed,” Xinsong said.
The Chinese expert, who specialises in Chinese politics and China’s role in international development, noted that the Asian giant’s existing investments and future interests in a failing Zimbabwe would all come to an end if the secession issue is not resolved.

“The potentially worst scenario for China is a ruler-less Zimbabwe, with neither of the Zanu PF factions winning over each other, a destructive but weak opposition party force, uncontrollable social turmoil, and the military stepping in politics. In that case, it would take years for the country to recover a functional government to run the economy,” he said.
The associate professor said China has the moral standing to direct Zimbabwe’s path as the Asian nation did not hesitate to grow economic and political connections with Zimbabwe despite the southern African country’s uncertainties.

“In fact, while Zimbabwe was under European Union and United States sanctions for its refusal to allow European Union observers in the 2002 election and for its brutal handling of protesters, China invested in at least 128 projects in the country from 2000 to 2012,” he said.
Information gathered by this publication shows that Zimbabwe is among the top three Chinese investment destinations in Africa, attracting a total foreign direct investment of more than $600 million in 2013.

Moreover, China was Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner in 2015, buying 27,8 percent of the country’s exports. Chinese companies have also been actively engaged in contractor services in telecommunication, construction, irrigation, and power.
China’s brotherly relationship with Zimbabwe dates back to the liberation war era.

Zanu, the predecessor of Zanu PF, received China’s financial and military sponsorship in its fighting with the rival faction supported by the Soviet Union.
After independence, China continued to offer support to the Zimbabwean government, building a national stadium, hospitals, and power stations, and providing 35 percent of Zimbabwe’s imported arms from 1980-1999.

In 2012, China donated $150 million worth of grain to help several Zimbabwean communities that were suffering from a famine.
More recently, China pledged $46 million to build a new Parliament for Zimbabwe as a gift.

During his visit to Zimbabwe in December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping called China Zimbabwe’s “all-weather” friend, and committed multi-billion-dollar energy and infrastructure projects, including a
$1 billion loan to finance the expansion of Zimbabwe’s largest thermal power plant.
To be sure, China has been a benefactor of its political and economic ties with Zimbabwe. China’s yuan or renminbi (RMB) is adopted as a legal currency in Zimbabwe, which may help pave the way for the RMB’s internationalisation, or if not, at least Africanisation, as China’s currency has been given more weight in several African nations’ currency reserves.

Xinsong said with little competition from other foreign investors except South Africa, and with the support of Mugabe-led Zanu PF, China has been able to take advantage of the Zimbabwean agricultural industry, which has huge potential but awaits capital injection.
For example, Tianze, a Chinese tobacco company established by the China Tobacco Import and Export Corporation in 2005, has given $100 million worth of interest-free loans to Zimbabwean farmers for tobacco production.

“Recently, more Chinese companies have invested in big tobacco farms that have been underworked by their owners, usually Mugabe’s cronies who were given the farms after their being seized from the white owners in 2000,” he said.
Zimbabwe is the fifth-largest tobacco exporting country in the world and China has the largest number of cigarette users on earth, buying 54 percent of Zimbabwe’s tobacco annually.

Comments (5)

This so called expert is no expert at all if Wang doesn't know that China will not intervene in the 'domestic affairs' of another sovereign state. It will set a precedence they want to avoid lest it comes back to haunt them. In any-case If there is a civil war China will want the contract to supply the weapons to all forces in the conflict.

Galore - 13 December 2016

this guy cannot resign lest arrest for the gukurahundi massacre. he knows that the majority of zimbos conveniently ignore that. where on earth have you seen someone who wants to rule up to the age of 150?

josphat mugadzaweta - 13 December 2016

It won't be complete to finish a single sentence without any harsh word,vulgar and harsh words put more emphasis on the subject/s,Zimbabwe need a change of leadership and policies to revive the industry,from 1980 companies have been closing,its unfortunate the majority are misled and whistle at rallies smiling for handouts,

Enos Chikukwa - 14 December 2016

So China's interest is just money, not the well being of suppressed Zimbabweans? Therefore it means that China is the reason Zimbabweans are suffering. Looters. No heart and soul. Selfish and murderers. We must drive all of them out when ZANU PF loses power in the next elections; unless they stand with the masses. China must understand that its interests in Zimbabwe must be quality enough to transcend any Zimbabwean government.

Presley - 16 December 2016

The 2 best things that should happen to Zimbabwe: Mugabe dies and the Chinese f... off. The chinks, just like Mugabe, don't give a damn about the people of this country; all they want to do is, just like Mugabe, plunder this country, wholesale.

Homo Erectus - 18 December 2016

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