Might real change be a possibility in Zimbabwe following the current talks between Tsvangirai and Mugabe?  Combined pressure from Zanu-PF’s two most powerful and loyal supporters, China and South Africa, is said to have been behind the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding that I wrote about last week.

China has been propping up the Zanu-PF regime for well over thirty years – 28 of those years with Zanu-PF (formerly just plain ZANU) as the so-called “elected government” of Zimbabwe.  (The 1980 elections were as marred by intimidation and violence as the 2008 elections were.)  With the election of Nelson Mandela’s ANC in South Africa, Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF gained a second powerful supporter.  But there has been no change of government in China in 60 years and no change in South Africa, where the ANC has been in power for the 14 years since the fall of apartheid.  So why, Mugabe and his generals must be asking themselves, should things be different in Zimbabwe? 

Well, Zimbabwe is in a state of almost complete collapse.  China is booming and powerful.   China needs Zimbabwe’s potentially rich harvest of minerals to feed its ever growing hunger for commodities.  Zimbabwe is an important element of that vast bounty of natural resources, conveniently set within the once enviable infrastructure of the Southern African Region.  China also wants markets for its ever growing manufacturing economy.  (People also mention Chinese embarrassment with Zimbabwe because of the imminent Beijing Olympic Games… but I doubt that’s a major factor – the Chinese are long term strategists.) 

While all Zimbabwe’s neighbours are being inconvenienced to some degree, South Africa is carrying the main burden of Zimbabwe’s failure.  Refugees arrive in ever increasing numbers and take jobs away from indigenous workers.  South Africa already has high unemployment and crime problems of its own without the added complication of the mushrooming influx of Zimbabwe job seekers.  The ANC hegemony within South Africa may come under threat because of these added pressures, and that would never do. 

Off on a completely different angle, RW Johnson writes in London’s Sunday Times that there is a powerful western organisation, based in Holland and called “The Fishmongers Group”, who are monitoring the talks between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.  He says this mysterious establishment has a veto on the Zimbabwe negotiations, and that any transitional government formed thereafter will have close ties with the group.  Apparently Britain formed this group last year and members include the USA, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Canada and Australia.  (He says China declined an invitation to join!)  Sorry, but I cannot see China or South Africa allowing the west to regain influence in the Southern Africa Region… 

So, with the collapse of government, perhaps Mugabe and Zanu-PF will be finally be forced to suffer the humiliation of defeat.  But would China or South Africa tolerate a democratically elected capitalist government in Zimbabwe that is friendly to the west?  Will Zimbabwe’s military and police forces be prepared to tolerate any curb on their powers?  Mugabe is little more than a puppet of these dark forces, and I can’t see how an agreement signed by Mugabe to hand power to Tsvangirai will be implemented without their acquiescence.  But if South Africa and China are the forces behind the agreement then anything is possible…  

END

Author, Peter Davies was a soldier in Rhodesia from 1963 to 1975, where he took part in the capture and interrogation of terrorists.  His novel, Scatterlings of Africa, is based on his own experience during Rhodesia’s war on terror, and personal observations of how terrorist activities impacted Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and its people.  http://www.peterdaviesbooks.com

Readers who would like to make a contribution to help innocent pensioners, who are unable to buy food and other basic necessities in Zimbabwe, should please contact Patricia Williams by email patashnix@btinternet.com.

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