West pushes Zimbabwe, Africa towards Russia and China


The United States, under the direction of President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, announced a new Africa policy in December. Aside from a commitment to countering terror groups across the continent, Bolton underlined America’s goal of undermining China’s and Russia’s growing economic influence through investment.

Speaking to reporters at the time, Bolton said “China uses bribes, opaque agreements and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands. Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption, and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as US development projects”.

Russia’s renewed efforts in Africa echo the US approach to containing China’s growing influence. Gone are the days of Russian involvement in African liberation struggles based on Marxist political calculations. Just as China uses its economic muscle to invest in struggling African economies, so too does Moscow.

This is especially true in Southern Africa, where Russia has been marketing everything from nuclear power plants to military cooperation. As the violence engulfed the streets of Harare last week, Mnangagwa was in Russia trying to raise money.

The President even sent tweets from Moscow appealing for calm among his people. The only problem was that no one could read them because Twitter had been blocked.

When all is said and done, China is the true innovator in Africa. Through myriad investments in infrastructure, Beijing manages a form of debt-trap diplomacy across the continent. Zimbabwe, in this regard, is a crown jewel. On the eve of his election last year, Mnangagwa flew to Beijing to discuss investment deals and the future of his country’s economy.

Given the staggering economic challenges facing Harare, it will be nearly impossible for Zimbabwe to get back to a healthy economy without a massive infusion of capital. Just this week, South Africa turned down a request for a US$1.2 billion loan to Zimbabwe, noting that it simply didn’t have the money to lend.

In previous decades, Harare would have sought Western financial assistance. But a decade of sanctions against the Robert Mugabe regime and general lack of interest in the internal problems of poor African countries mean that that is no longer in the cards. As such, the likes of China and Russia will step in to fill the void and also enjoy newfound geopolitical capital.

The lack of coverage of Zimbabwe’s protests in Europe and the United States reflects much more than an unwillingness to care about the country’s future, but also of a fundamental rethink of Western political objectives in Africa. China and Russia only stand to benefit.-Asia Times


Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on google
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Like it? Share with your friends!

Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *