What did Mugabe promise China?

via What did Mugabe promise China? | The Zimbabwean 10 September 2014

Despite President Robert Mugabe returning from China with only loose change jingling in his pockets, state media continues to portray the President’s trip to the Far East as a resounding success. The phrase ‘mega deals’ is repeated as if we are to believe that anything tangible materialized from Mugabe’s costly voyage – estimated by some observers to be $10M.

Sources from the travelling party have revealed that the so-called ‘mega deals’ are merely theoretical, as the definition of Memorandum of Understanding implies. The MOUs apply only to viable projects. ‘We got promises of development projects, not money,’ revealed an unnamed senior government official.

What has also been revealed by another delegate is that China is circumspect about Zimbabwe’s political future and low credit rating. Also worrisome is President Mugabe’s advanced age. Mugabe appears to harbour the notion that China will give hand-outs, merely on sentiment – ‘our fair weather friend’ – but these revelations indicate Eastern superpower will make its decisions based on sound business principles. The country is practically insolvent, having failed to service its IMF debt.

President Mugabe, who is accustomed to having his boots kissed, experienced a rather humorous reversal of roles as it was he who was trying very hard to ingratiate himself to the Chinese. Excited about intangible agreements, he even went into a speech about the removal of visa requirements for Chinese tourists. We can only imagine what other promises were made to China by the President, behind closed doors. And it is exactly those secret promises which MDC legislators demanded to know from finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa. The minister’s response further confirms the futility of Mugabe’s trip.

‘What we have been able to achieve was serious engagement with the Chinese authorities. We got a commitment from the highest authority to fund bankable projects. China does not give budgetary support to any country,’ said Chinamasa.

Patrick Chinamasa also gave his views on why Zimbabwe was an unattractive investment zone. He cited confusion surrounding the indigenisation policy, erratic water and electricity supply as well as corruption. There may be plans to boost power production but no high level arrests have been made concerning several public sector scandals this year.

It should be remembered that in 2006 VP Mujuru signed similar deals with China but none ever came to fruition. What is worse, at the time Mugabe was almost 82. If his age was not an issue then, a decade later, it will certainly be of greater concern.

Perhaps these repeated chants of ‘mega deals’ are intended to appease a restive electorate, which has seen no improvement to life in the 13 months post elections. Perhaps it is Mugabe who needs cheering up as a gruelling 21,000km flight to Beijing and back – for a nonagenarian – is not quite the same as a short walk down the driveway to collect the mail.