The Chinese presence in Zimbabwe has been a topic of much debate in recent years, with some arguing that the country has been “colonized” by Chinese investment and influence.
It is true that China has played a significant role in the Zimbabwean economy in recent years, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and natural resources. The Chinese government has provided loans and investment for a variety of projects in the country, including the construction of roads, bridges, and power plants, as well as the development of mining and agriculture.
In addition to economic influence, China has also been involved in Zimbabwean politics. The Chinese government has provided support for the ruling party, and has been accused of backing the regime of former President Robert Mugabe. Some critics argue that China’s support for the Mugabe government helped to prolong the country’s political and economic crisis.
However, it’s important to note that China’s influence in Zimbabwe is not one-sided. The Zimbabwean government has also courted Chinese investment and has sought to build closer ties with Beijing. Additionally, the relationship between the two countries is not limited to politics and economics, as China has also been involved in cultural exchange programs with Zimbabwe.
While it is true that China has played a significant role in the Zimbabwean economy and politics, it is important to note that the relationship between the two countries is complex and multifaceted. China’s influence in Zimbabwe should be understood in the context of the broader global economy and the shifting balance of power between nations.
It’s worth noting that the Chinese government has been accused of using debt-trap diplomacy to gain control over countries’ natural resources and infrastructure as a way of expanding its own political and economic influence. However, the Chinese government has denied these accusations and maintain that their investments in Africa are mutually beneficial and driven by the principle of win-win cooperation.
While Chinese influence in Zimbabwe is undeniable, it is important to understand the complexity of the relationship between the two countries and take into account the various factors that have contributed to the current state of affairs.
Look East vs Western influence
President Mnangagwa, who took office in 2017 after the ousting of former President Mugabe, has continued the policy of seeking closer ties with China. Under his leadership, the Zimbabwean government has sought to secure Chinese investment and loans for a variety of projects, including infrastructure development, mining, and agriculture.
Unpacking the Chinese Influence in Zimbabwe: Examining the Role of China in the Upcoming 2023 Elections
President Mnangagwa has also sought to improve political ties with China, visiting Beijing on several occasions and welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to Zimbabwe in 2018. The two countries have signed a number of agreements, including a framework agreement for cooperation, a Memorandum of Understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative, and an agreement for the construction of a new parliament building in Zimbabwe.
This close relationship with China has been viewed by some as an attempt by President Mnangagwa to balance the country’s traditional ties with Western countries, which have been strained due to years of political and economic crisis. However, it has also been criticized by some opposition parties, who argue that the government is selling out the country’s resources and sovereignty to China.
These opposition parties, which seem to be western-backed, may try to use the government’s ties with China as a campaign issue in the 2023 elections, arguing that the government is not acting in the best interests of the Zimbabwean people. However, it’s worth noting that the government and President Mnangagwa argue that their relationship with China is beneficial for the country and that it has helped to revive the economy and attract much-needed investments.
In the next elections, the government and opposition parties are likely to present different views on the relationship with China and how it affects the country. It will be up to the voters to decide which party presents a more compelling case. While President Mnangagwa’s ties with China may be a factor in the upcoming elections, it is likely that a range of issues will be considered by voters when casting their ballots.
Issues for voters to consider on the international stage
Voters in Zimbabwe’s next elections are likely to consider a range of issues when it comes to the current government’s relations with China, as opposed to the opposition’s offer to connect the country to the Western world. Some of the key issues that may be considered include:
1. Economic Development: Voters may consider how the government’s relations with China have affected economic development in the country. The government may argue that Chinese investment and loans have helped to revive the economy, while the opposition may argue that the government is selling out the country’s resources and sovereignty to China.
2. Infrastructure: Voters may consider how the government’s relations with China have affected infrastructure development in the country. The government may argue that Chinese investment has helped to improve roads, bridges, and power plants, while the opposition may argue that the country is becoming overly dependent on China and that the infrastructure development is not sustainable.
3. Employment: Voters may consider how the government’s relations with China have affected employment in the country. The government may argue that Chinese investment has helped to create jobs, while the opposition may argue that the jobs created are not sustainable or not suitable for the local population.
4. Sovereignty: Some voters may consider the government’s relationship with China as a threat to the country’s sovereignty, arguing that the government is giving away too much control over the country’s resources and decision-making to China.
5. Diplomatic relations: voters may consider how the government’s relationship with China affects the country’s diplomatic relations with other nations, especially with the Western world. The opposition may argue that the government’s focus on China has led to a neglect of traditional ties with Western countries.
6. Transparency and accountability: Some voters may consider if the government’s deals with China are transparent and if the government is accountable for the results of these deals.
One of the key issues that voters will likely consider is the country’s relationship with foreign powers, specifically the question of whether to “look east” or to seek Western backing. Both options have their own set of pros and cons, and it is important for voters to understand the implications of each as they make their decision.
One of the main pros of the “look east” policy is that it provides a potential source of investment and aid for Zimbabwe. China, in particular, has been a major investor in the country in recent years, providing loans and investment for infrastructure development and natural resource extraction. This has helped to revive the country’s struggling economy and create jobs. In addition, the Chinese government has provided support for the ruling party, which has helped to stabilize the country’s politics.
However, there are also significant cons to the “look east” policy. One of the main concerns is that Zimbabwe has become overly dependent on Chinese investment, which has led to a loss of sovereignty and control over the country’s resources. Critics argue that the government is selling out the country’s resources and sovereignty to China, and that the country is becoming a debt-trap of China. Additionally, there have been concerns about the quality of the infrastructure being built and the environmental impact of Chinese investment in the country.
On the other hand, seeking Western backing has its own set of pros and cons. One of the main pros is that it could provide access to a wider range of investment and aid options, as well as potential support for political and economic reforms. Western countries, especially the United States and European Union, have been critical of the human rights record of the current government and the lack of political openness, thus getting their backing could lead to more pressure to reform.
However, there are also cons to seeking Western backing. One of the main concerns is that it could lead to a deterioration of relations with China, which could have negative economic consequences. Additionally, Western countries may impose conditions on aid and investment, such as political and economic reforms, which may be unpopular with the ruling party and some parts of the population.
Voters will have to weigh the pros and cons of the “look east” policy and seeking Western backing, and decide which approach is in the best interest of the country and its citizens. The “look east” policy provides a potential source of investment and aid for Zimbabwe, but it also comes with the risk of losing sovereignty and control over resources, while seeking Western backing could lead to more pressure for political and economic reforms but also could have negative economic consequences. Ultimately, the voters will have to weigh the pros and cons of the government’s “Look East” policy and the opposition’s offer to connect the country to the Western world and decide which one they believe would be more beneficial for the country and its citizens.
Local issues to consider
There are likely to be a range of local political issues and hardships that are of concern to the Zimbabwean population. Some of the key issues that may be at stake include:
1. Economic stability: One of the major concerns for many Zimbabweans is the country’s ongoing economic crisis, which has led to high levels of inflation, unemployment, and poverty. Voters may be looking for parties that have a clear and realistic plan to address these issues and to revive the economy.
2. Corruption: Corruption has been a persistent problem in Zimbabwe, and many citizens are likely to be looking for parties that have a strong commitment to fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability.
3. Human rights: Many Zimbabweans have been concerned about the government’s human rights record, including allegations of political repression, police brutality, and harassment of civil society organizations. Voters may be looking for parties that have a clear and credible plan to address these issues and to promote respect for human rights.
4. Jobs and livelihoods: With high unemployment rate, many Zimbabweans are looking for parties that have a plan to create jobs and improve livelihoods for the population.
5. Agriculture: Agriculture is a critical issue for many Zimbabweans, and voters may be looking for parties that have a plan to promote sustainable and productive agriculture, particularly for smallholder farmers.
6. Health care: The country’s health care system has been struggling for years, with a shortage of drugs, equipment, and medical personnel. Voters may be looking for parties that have a plan to address this issue, so that citizens have access to adequate health care.
7. Education: Education is another critical issue for many Zimbabweans, and voters may be looking for parties that have a plan to improve the country’s education system, so that citizens have access to quality education.
8. Environment: Climate change and environmental degradation are becoming increasingly important issues for many Zimbabweans, and voters may be looking for parties that have a plan to address these issues, so that citizens have access to a clean and healthy environment.
Ultimately, the key issues at stake in the 2023 elections will depend on the specific concerns of the Zimbabwean population and the priorities of the different political parties.