Kristin Palitza
Kristin Palitza

Zim behind the scenes

In the past couple of days I’ve been wondering what’s really going on behind the scenes in Zimbabwe. Many rumours have been in circulation, but I wasn’t too sure what to make of them. But now I’ve sniffed a very foul smell wafting from much further than Zimbabwe or Southern Africa — it comes all the way from across the ocean.

We are officially held in suspension about the election results, hope on a day-to-day basis they might get released — and then, of course, they are not — and watch how Morgan Tsvangirai almost desperately meets African leaders to get their support … and is fibbed off with rather empty promises, half-hearted attempts to pressurise Zanu-PF or, even worse, Mbeki’s now famous “Crisis? What crisis?” response that he quickly turned into a “loud diplomacy doesn’t work” scenario.

But on Wednesday, some pieces of the Zim puzzle fell into place for me. It happened when I read that a Chinese-flagged cargo ship was trying to dock in Durban harbour to off-load weapons for Zimbabwe …while, almost at the same time, George W Bush, who hasn’t wasted any of his precious thoughts on Zimbabwe so far (why should he — no oil there), all of a sudden decided to have a chat with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the topic.

The situation in Zim needs to be “resolved peacefully and soon” and has been “going on for too long”, announced Bush, pretty much out of the blue. Why the sudden interest? This surely isn’t about a newly found concern for human rights and democracy. No, Bush would not waste his energy on a country from which he cannot gain anything. So what’s in it for him?

It is an open secret that Mugabe has built a tight relationship with Chinese President Hu Jintao (who, for all we know, might be the one who shipped the weapons) and cut some deals over the past few years (for example in mid-2005, when he signed an aid deal with China that promised mineral and other trade concessions in exchange for economic help). And China, hardly affected by the global economic downturn, is the only major threat to the US’s world reign right now.

And so, putting two and two together, it seems as if George W sees the Zimbabwe crisis as a perfect opportunity to fight out his last battle for world hegemony (US versus China), and I wouldn’t be surprised he wants to do this conveniently on African ground. Casualties of this dirty war will (apart from a few soldiers on both sides) just be some poor Africans who die like flies from other causes anyway (hunger, HIV/Aids, lack of sanitation, lack of access to healthcare). We know for a fact that the so-called world community hasn’t cared much about the people of Zimbabwe in the recent years, so why would it now?

It looks like Zimbabwe will become the perfect battleground for world power …

  • Lucien

    What a load of hogwash! It is most probably true to say Bush does not even know where Zimbabwe is. But to credit him with such a strategy is really assuming he has, and giving him credit for, more intelligence that he more than likely has!

  • me

    Have you been sniffing something incredibly intoxicating ?? The Elected leader of the worlds superpower George Bush is allowed to ask the UN to look into the Zimbabwe Crisis thats what the UN was created for, you know so we don’t have WWIII. You dirty liberals will lead yourselves to your own extinction,looking at the communist dictatorship China as your saviour from America what a load of bollocks really…grow up and stop doing the drugs, fool

  • Owen

    Bob blames Morgan for selling out to the British BUT he has sold out to the Chinese.

  • Ali

    uhhh… bonus marks for creativity, but it remains a fail…

  • Philip

    Kristin, I am no fan of Bush and not inclined to believe that he would ever want to embark on this sort of nonsense in his lame-duck year. If you are looking for such a scenario it’s probably some low level positioning for trade opportunities rather than any high-stakes global hegemony game. This is such a low-rent neighbourhood it doesn’t warrant enough attention.

  • Alan

    Well you certainly managed to rattle these two respondents cages. Is it really necessary to be rude?
    I don’t dismiss claims of this sort purely because the current US administration has proven again and again what they are capable of. They wouldn’t think twice about plunging another failed African state into war if they could see some remote advantage to themselves and their balance sheets.
    Do not make the mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the ultraconservatives in the White House. These people are technical idiots with vast power at their disposal and a penchant for using it unwisely. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  • JP Strauss

    I think you have quite an intriguing theory there. And I think that it may very well play out exactly like you paint it.

  • Robert_A

    Is China really that interested in Zim? China has made many deals/overtures to other African countries, the friendship line is that he is about the only leader outside of Africa that is prepared to meet/accommodate Bob. But if Bob becomes a pariah amongst his own regional community then China has little to gain from the relationship.

  • Kristin Palitza

    Some more background on the relationship between the US and Africa (George W is clearly more aware of this continent than you might think): Associated Press reported last September that the US is abandoning most of its Cold War-era military bases and replacing them with bases in Africa (and the Middle East). In Africa, the US has been focusing on Uganda, Djibouti, Senegal and São Tomé and Príncipe, where it wants to create strategically placed “jumping off points” with very few permanently stationed troops but with the infrastructure in place to rapidly launch major regional operations.

    And here’s some more on how interested China is in Zim, Robert_A: In mid-2006 the Zimbabwean government secretly bought Chinese military equipment in return for 30 tons of ivory, violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species which forbids the sale of ivory (now investigated by Interpol and CITES, an ivory-watchdog). In 2005, the Zimbabwean government bought six military aircraft from China and another six aircraft from three Chinese firms in August 2006. Two days later the Zimbabwe National Army said it bought 127 trucks for $1.2 million.

    The Chinese government also donated farm machinery worth $25 million to Zimbabwe as part of a $58 million loan to the Zimbabwean government. In return for the equipment and the loan the Zimbabwean government is planning to ship 110 million kilograms of tobacco to China over the next five years. This is just a shortlist of economic agreements that highlight the tight relationship between the two countries.

    And, lastly, thanks for pointing out the rudeness of the first two comments, Alan. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me at all, but name-calling and offensive language are an absolutely inappropriate response.

  • Daemos1


    Dirty liberals


  • http://WeepforAfrica Icarus

    There is no perfect, or even good, battleground. The people of Zim are like us in every way.

    No human should be dominated by a tyrant, victim to incompetent, but powerful, leaders; or subject to empty doctrines and hollow words.

    And violence and deception.

    Its all over, but thats no excuse for allowing it to go unchallenged.

    Surely we can be better than the 1st world who watch and wait till they can pick up the pieces to their own advantage.

    Speak up, Africans.

    Otherwise you will be trodden into the ground, wasted blood and fire.

  • me

    really maybe you will write your next article on the masters of zion and the lizard people from planet x. You know the only people importing arms into zim are the chinese the rest of your conspiracy seems to be on your irrational dislike of american hemegony which if you really think about it is the only reason you have the freedom to criticize americans on the internet(try writing something anti chinese on the web in china and see how fabulous liberators are then)

  • Jon

    Dubya really couldn’t care a tinker’s cuss about Zimbabwe. And, after all, why on earth should he?

  • Positive

    You give Bush credit for thinking. Your view is however plausible, and I think his paranoid advisors probably came up with this kind of thinking. For those who think Kristin’s explanation is hogwash, you have short memories and very little insight into human nature. Remember the cold war? It may be gone, but some people never forget and get stuck in the past (think AWB, Boeremag, SACP, Mugabe). Given the opportunity, they will push their agendas. And, by the way, international politics is about power, about which the USA is obsessed. I see them as a very selfish nation who would not easily give up their economic dominance.

    As for Mugabe; he (Mugabe) is right, even he gets bought like live stock – by the Chinese!

  • XNM

    There is platinum that is largely unexploited in Zim. The most expensive natural raw material todate. Not withstanding the natural riches in the majority of SADAC states. It is a fact that some people would like to deny and dismiss that European cities were built with riches from Africa extracted over hundreds of years. An African idiom goes like this: where a dog has received a bone it shall never let go. Africans must wake up it is not time to sleep now. beawre of being sold to hyenas by your comrades.

  • Glenton Downs

    Despite the derision by some of the commentators your scenario remains plausible. We should take into account that although Zimbabwe is not the only game in town for China and the US as far as Africa is concerned, it is the most high profile at the moment. It must be noted that the state of democracy in neighbouring Angola is worse.

    I am pleased to note that South African Civil Society managed to provide one of the solutions to the Chinese weapons of repression issue and thumb it’s nose at the ANC government who were displaying a lack of statesmanship under the guise of silent diplomacy.

    It is a pity that we were unable to get a squizz at the contents of the ship it. It would seem that the captain of the vessel was not very keen to allow this as there is speculation that there were nastier weapons than that which were declared. The plot thickens.

    The correspondent who derided the article citing the SADCC as a low rent neighbourhood ought to read the correspondence between Albert Einstein and US President Harry Truman during the 2nd world war where Einstein proposed the atomic bomb to the US stating that the assembled group of scientists were of the opinion that the Bomb would be so decisive that they would not wish the other nations to get a hold of it first. At that time Einstein issued a warning that the area where the greatest reserves of uranium existed was Central Africa, notably the Congo. (Google it up on the Manhattan Project website)

    if Bush et al were willing to make war for a strategic commodity like oil then protecting Uranium security is an even likelier prospect.

    The DRC have not had democracy for over 40 years.

  • amused reader

    @ XNM

    More tripe from you and your ‘chip on your shoulder’ mentality.

    Try and at least make sure that your latest rant has some resemblance to the facts. Which European cities did you have in mind, (here’s the clue) and do make sure they are ones built after the Europeans came to Africa and not before?

  • Bilal

    @Amused reader
    Read your History and you ll learn how Liverpool became what it is today-slave trade.

  • XNM

    Shame on you amuse reader!!!!!