Tags: Zimbabwe | China | NKorea | Influence

How Will US Deal With Chinese, NKorean Influence in Zimbabwe?

How Will US Deal With Chinese, NKorean Influence in Zimbabwe?
Robert Mugabe (Getty Images)

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Thursday, 23 November 2017 09:34 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The 10-day coup in Zimbabwe that eventually brought down longtime strongman Robert Mugabe was not greeted with a statement or even a comment when Newsmax raised it at the White House.

"I don't have any announcements on our relationship with Zimbabwe at this time," press secretary Sarah Sanders told us Monday, after we asked if the administration would recognize the military-installed regime or try to convince the Zimbabwean government to cut back on its ties to China and North Korea.

A day later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hailed Mugabe's resignation as "a historic moment for Zimbabwe," and urged its new leaders to "to implement much-needed political and economic reforms for a more stable and promising future for the Zimbabwean people."

Tillerson also stressed that "whatever short-term arrangements the government may establish, the path forward must lead to free and fair elections. The people of Zimbabwe must choose their own leaders."

The dilemma herein is that the two key political players involved in the overthrow of Mugabe are both longtime allies of the deposed dictator, and have no problems with the heavy-handed Chinese influence in Harare.

Emmerson Mnangwa, the vice president deposed by Mugabe and reinstated by the military, and Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, Defense Force Commander and the coup leader, "have been Mugabe's key allies since 1980 [when he became Zimbabwe's first-ever leader in the former Rhodesia]," according to Patrick Smith, editor of the much-respected 57-year-old Africa Confidential.

Smith cited the notorious 2008 presidential election in Zimbabwe, in which reform candidate Morgan Tsvangiri led in the first round with a stunning 47.8 percent of the vote and Mugabe placed second with 43.2 percent.

Tsvangiri insisted he won a majority in the first round but that the results were altered between the time of the voting and the reporting of the official outcome.

All signs nevertheless pointed to a Tsvangiri triumph in the runoff. But what followed, as Smith told us, "was the brutal repression of the opposition and civil society groups. Over 700 people were killed and thousands wounded and maimed. The repression was organized by the Joint Operations Command, which Mnangwa chaired."

Amid the violence, Tsvangiri announced he would not contest runner-up Mugabe in the runoff and thus, the President retained his office.

The heavy hand of China in Zimbabwean affairs is well-known.

The Beijing government helped fund Mugabe's revolution against the white minority regime in the former Rhodesia in the late '70's. For decades since, China has been a key economic backer of Zimbabwe - investing in steel mills, coal mines, power stations, and building roads, bridges and airports. Most of the contracts are loan-financed through barter deals.

Today, China is Zimbabwe's largest investor.

Much like Mugabe himself, the incoming leadership of Zimbabwe has close ties to Beijing.

Mnangwa, for example, trained in China during his days as a key lieutenant in Mugabe's revolutionary ZANU movement (which eventually became the ruling party). Gen. Chiwenga was in Beijing less than a week before he launched the uprising—very possibly tipping off its leaders that a coup was in the works.

Less known than China's role in Zimbabwe is that of North Korea. The most brutal military advisers the Mugabe regime had were the North Koreans, who trained the feared "Five Brigade"-- the force that murdered 20,000 Ndebele Zimbabweans in the notorious Gukurahundi massacre of Matabeleland in 1983. (Roughly translated from the Shona language, "Gukurahundi" means "the early rains which washes away the chaff before the spring rains" and refers to the purging of dissidents from Mugabe's revolution three years after he came to power).

"Mnangwa and Chiwenga surely pulled off the coup because their vital commercial interests and political positions were threatened by the chaos of Mugabe trying to hand power to his wife Grace," Africa Confidential Smith told us. "They are both into the kleptocracy and brutality up to their eyeballs."

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John-Gizzi
The 10-day coup in Zimbabwe that eventually brought down longtime strongman Robert Mugabe was not greeted with a statement or even a comment when Newsmax raised it at the White House. "I don't have any announcements on our relationship with Zimbabwe at this time," press...
Zimbabwe, China, NKorea, Influence
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2017-34-23
Thursday, 23 November 2017 09:34 AM
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