Thursday, March 11, 2004
Zimwatch: Experienced Totalitarians send trainers to Mugabe's Thugs

Zimbabwe does not really have an army, just a collection of thieves, murderers and rapists who happen to be paid by whatever mafia passes for the state. The Zimbabwe Herald, fleeing from reality as fast as Saddam's PR, has announced that their pro-western foreign policy will be abandoned (perhaps they mean Botswana or Angola here?) .

Less surprising is the presence of military trainers from the PLA, who are introducing the Zimbabweans to the joys of "peacekeeping, or as it is known in the Congo, "conflict diamonds".

"China and Zimbabwe have always worked together to fight the machinations of the big countries. In the last two years we have defeated those moves by working together. We intend to defeat them again this year," said the minister. [Stan Mudenge, Minister for Foreign Affairs]

China’s deputy defence attache in Zimbabwe, Colonel Li Wen, praised the Zimbabwean army’s role in regional peacekeeping.

"We’re honoured to make a contribution to bilateral relations," Col Li Wen said.

The Chinese instructors are involved in training the Zimbabwean army following the withdrawal of the British army.

This has also formed a desperate lifeline for the economic mismanagement that the country has suffered. Devoted to autarky, the regime's supporters are arguing that economic policy has been a success:

We need them [the IMF and the World Bank] as international development partners," trade consultant and economic commentator Samuel Undenge said of the IMF, attacked the world over for more-often-than-not taking a firm but wrong headed stance on fiscal issues.

"I regard it as a very timely visit. They will be able to see, first hand, the result of our own monetary policy.

"It is a home-grown economic policy which we crafted ourselves, so they will be able to appreciate that locally devised programmes work and give us support," Undenge said.

Economic analyst Jonathan Kadzura concurred.

"The bottom line is we need each other. They are not an island and we are not either.

"The point is they can see changes, even from afar, in terms of the seriousness and purpose as demonstrated by the implementation of the new monetary policy," Kadzura said.

This is accompanied by a reliance upon the Far East, as an alternative to the West.

The government's position, repeated many times by President Robert Mugabe and some of his ministers, was that Zimbabwe can totally eschew the Bretton Woods institutions and "look East", in reference to the Asian markets and the country's emerging economic partners in the form of China, Malaysia, Indonesia and other such states.

Even these states will not provide Zimbabwe with a free lunch. However, China requires ever more commodities and has developed its strategic and economic influence in Africa over the past two years. Whilst this is a short-term move to fill the gap left by the vacuum of the West, they would have been unlikely to step in without the acquiescence or permission of South Africa. The relationship between Africa's only great power and China is the one to watch.

(21.56, 11th February 2004)


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