China, West trap Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is a trapped man, having now presided over Zimbabwe’s indebtedness to both friend and foe, an economist has said.


President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

University of Cape Town Business Graduate School lecturer, Mills Soko, told CTV’s John Matisson that China had now joined Western countries in demanding political and economic reforms from Mugabe before any bail-out package could be considered.

“Mugabe looks more dependent than ever, he is indebted to China as well as the West. Zimbabwe is bankrupt and has run out of cash,” he said.

“China has made it clear it will not extend any rescue package until the issue of political succession has been sorted. There is also the issue of Zanu PF renewal and China has made it clear there is need for revitalising the party.”

Zimbabwe’s problems, according to Soko, stem from “a dreadful governance” situation that should be addressed, but Mugabe remains “a barrier even to reformists within Zanu PF”.

He said the Look East Policy had allowed China to increase its economic footprint in Zimbabwe, but Mugabe had since defaulted in paying loans amounting to $1,5 billion.

Soko said China had given indications that it would accept Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s heir, but the internal struggles for power within Zanu PF made the situation murky.

“It is widely believed that the Chinese would prefer Mnangagwa. They have a long history of working with him after he trained in that country in the 1960s. Mnangagwa has a chequered history and was involved in unsavoury incidents in the country, including the Matabeleland massacres,” he said.

“He has served in Cabinet since 1980 and is very close to the security. Of course, he is positioning himself as a reformer. There several interests that are coalescing around him, especially the military, but there is opposition to this from G40, led by the likes of [politburo members] Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, who have teamed up with the First Lady (Grace Mugabe). Mnangagwa is in a good position, but it will not be an easy ride.”
Soko claimed Mugabe’s recent moves to seek assistance from international finance institutions represent a “humiliation”.

“It represents a realisation that the Look East Policy has failed. It was designed to counter Western influence and pressure and now he has gone back to these Western countries, whom he owes in excess of $1,8 billion,” he said.
“This is a very clear case of humiliation on the part of Mugabe having to see his Finance minister (Patrick Chinamasa) traverse Western capitals with a begging bowl seeking support from the West.”

Soko said Chinese leader, Xi Jinping has seemingly taken a hardline stance against the Zimbabwean strongman.
“China has made it clear that Zimbabwe needs to find her way out of the current morass. China has also become more assertive under Xi,” he said.

Soko said South Africa had an important role to play, as Zimbabwe’s neighbour and largest trading partner.
“South Africa has to engage to address issues related to political succession and economic reforms to ensure Zimbabwe comes back to sound footing,” he said.

“We are dealing with a failing State. With the security situation failing, including the (late) payment of soldiers and police, we have a serious situation. We saw such a scenario in the then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) under Mobutu (Sese Seko) and it led to his ousting.”


  1. Yes true,very true.Im wodering if a south african who is 1500 ks away can see this,whats up wth yu locals.I have always said this ,not bcoz Ngwena is my favourate bt facts point to him being the next leader.The Chinese will only give mney when ngwena signs the deal as president,the west have also hinted on that plus south africa.This is a shortcut to finnishing this mess,being offered thru ngwena.why opt for what little poor Botswana is agitating for.Why waste time n energy on long trips by donkey when yu can fly there.Besides ngwena at 70 wont be around also for a long time.Constitutionaly 2 terms he is out.But the country will be on a flying start.A giant like coca cola talking to ngwena for a posible huge plant in Zim to cater for SADC outside south africa,is seriouse business.All this waiting for ngwena s stability he brings to our disastrouse politics.Ngwena is the deal here.

  2. In the event that the President leaves office before the end of his term, the last acting president takes over for 90 days. The party that sponsored the president’s candidature in the preceding elections nominate a replacement to complete the president’s term. I thought this was a succession plan and a clear one.
    For the President to nominate his successor that will be counter Democratic to both his party and the country.I believe the party in power has got its Democratic procedure for electing it’s leaders.
    I have never heard of leaders in the West nominating successors.

  3. Why put in power an unpopular, un-electable leader. He will only rule and hold power by brute force. Thats not a pleasant outlook.

  4. the conditions by wc ngwena will get into office wont aloow him to go past the 2 terms….tho tt wil be a risk to democracy l strongly blv economically its a sound option

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