Chinese fingerprints at State House?

via Chinese fingerprints at State House? – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 28, 2015

THE Standard (July 19, 2015) quotes Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a recent CCTV interview as saying: “We want to adopt the same model of reforms, legal and social, and that is why we have five experts from the Development Reform Commission of China seconded to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to work with 20 officials we have already identified.”

This humble admission of failure by the VP on behalf of his Cabinet colleagues was touching.

It explained the candidness he showed in the rest of the interview. It may also explain the latest Cabinet reshuffle and the onslaught against labour and medical aid societies.

The Chinese Model that Cabinet wants to adopt had very little social services provision by central government and labour rights, at the stage Zimbabwe is, in China’s development. Rights, such as job security, had to be earned the hard way over three decades of hard work, in the factories. Brutal labour market forces were allowed to dominate.

As Chinese labour got more skilled and scarce, its bargaining power improved. With no loyalty to its past masters, many new Chinese enterprises involved prying away technology, or theft of intellectual property, from Western companies for “indigenisation”.

With China’s huge population, ever (then) growing domestic demand, forced (in the absence of government-funded social safety nets), high domestic savings together with other initiatives such as sustained financial repression, preferred supplier status by the USA in particular, the formula, summarised as investment and export-driven, worked spectacularly well. Hundreds of millions of people were lifted from poverty and into the global market.

They now provide the West with billions of dollars in goods, services imports, free skills exports, education tourism and leisure tourism, year in year out. It is this win-win formula that the Chinese six (C6) would want the Zimbabwean 20 (Zw20) to grasp as early as possible.

There is no place for ranting and raving daily against the West and fellow African countries such as South Africa, against the major potential customers. This could explain the changes at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services after the Twitter wars. Did the changes have C6 fingerprints since constructive engagement was a Chinese diplomatic tool of great value during the last 30 years?

The former Minister of Local Government and National Housing had what seemed to be an adversarial relationship with local government especially those in cities run by the opposition. Planned urbanisation, involving purchase of land from the countryside, as opposed to seizing it, and sale of the same land to developers with proceeds going to local municipalities to fund infrastructure, as opposed to parceling it to cronies with proceeds disappearing into thin air, drove Chinese economic growth. Will C6 be watching the new incumbent to see his vision, if any?

There was no place for housing co-operatives for the informally employed in the Chinese march to modernity. Indeed there was an infamous pass system reminiscent of apartheid to access services in cities.

The only difference was the absence of the colour bar in its execution. The brutal formula works, but carries some costs and may not function as well in a multi-party democracy in the 21st century.

Putting a VP in charge of policy co-ordination was a masterstroke, given the President’s extremely busy Sadc and AU workloads. The VP would serve as some Prime Minister of some kind or a chief operating officer were he in the private sector. But is the candidate up to the task? Even before the AU and Sadc duties of His Excellency, the OPC has been the major weak link in the whole system.

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai failed spectacularly to discharge his duties, although it was clear a faction of Zanu PF was sabotaging him, wilfully not attending his so-called Council of Ministers which subsequently folded, thanks to the mischief which went unpunished.

If Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who is now in charge of policy co-ordination after the latest Cabinet reshuffle, is not to suffer the same humiliation, he should be able to chair Cabinet, though resolutions may constitutionally have to be signed off by the President. The VP should also be able to enforce discipline among would-be errant ministers. To quote a Chinese expression of yore, he should not be a “paper tiger”. One was enough!

The recent Supreme Court judgment on the legality of dismissal of workers on a three-month notice, though possibly technically correct, seems to have clearly misjudged the Legislature’s intention. However it would dovetail very nicely with the C6 and the Zw20’s most likely dreams.

Suddenly the cost of reviving parastatals is reduced by hundreds of millions of dollars as contracts can be terminated on three-month notice without retrenchment.

It is it cruel but good for the country in the long run. There are other options, but they require courage and involve paying off the workers in shares or land.

The judgment most likely has some C6Zw20 fingerprints. The proof will be provided when the Executive and Parliament drag their feet on a replacement statute. “We want to adopt your legal and social ways,” VP Mnangagwa assured the Chinese.

Ironically soon some Labour Court Presidents (Judges) and officials, the majority of whom are going to be redundant now, will receive their pink slips with the three-month notice. The savings to the fiscus and improvement on doing business in Zimbabwe will be substantial. With the gates open, other bloated structures will be downsized or abolished.

It is a time for the gnashing of teeth.

 Tapiwa Nyandoro can be contacted on or


  • comment-avatar
    Ganyura 7 years ago

    Ours has been a consumption economy since 1980. The difference previously was that when the coffers looked empty, PM Mugabe would just hope in a plane to meet the queen, drink tea and request a few millions of pounds. In a masterstroke, everything was back to normal, thanks too to Ian Smith, he had built all the cities, roads, rail and basically all the infrastructure.

    Now, after foul mouthing the queen and her subjects, Bob can’t go there. And eloquent cheap talk became hollow. Now, everyone has to work. The genuine ones must rise.

    I love this. I wish Bob would live a few more decades in retirement, so he can see for himself what we are about to build, that which he has denied us for nearly four decades.

    Here comes the rise of the economic epicentre on earth! We are the Munhumutapa people, peaceful…hardworking and…hey (the Japanese bow their heads even at their enemies…) Our land stretched from central Africa to the meeting point between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Mapungukweeeeee! NaMai!