CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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A Beijing hand in Mugabe fall?

HARARE (AsiaNews): Constantino Chiwenga, the general who orchestrated the coup in Zimbabwe that finally saw the president of 37 years, Robert Mugabe, resign on November 22, was in Beijing for meetings with the Chinese military and the defence minister, Chang Wanquan, just a few days before he made his decisive move on November 15.
 
Although it was billed as a normal military exchange, an article published in the Global Times on November 16 may suggest otherwise.
 
Wang Hongyi surmised that the Mugabe government had brought huge losses to China, a constant supporter of Mugabe since his country became independent and as the nation’s largest foreign investor, he suggested that a change in government would benefit China greatly.
 
But relations go back even further, as China supported Mugabe’s ZANU-PF Party in the 1960s during its guerilla struggle for the liberation of Northern Rhodesia from its apartheid policies and white supremacist government of Ian Smith. One of Mugabe’s first acts as prime minister was to tie up diplomatic relations with Beijing.
 
But over the last 15 years in particular, Zimbabwe’s economy has been in nose dive and economists say that the average citizen was 15 per cent better off back in 1980 than they are today.
 
But Beijing would also want a peaceful transition of power in order to protect its interests and a former ambassador from the United Kingdom to North Korea, John Everard, commented that the coup has all the signs of the old 1960s and 1970s heists orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency from the United States of America.
 
But since the early 2000s when the western world began placing restrictions on Zimbabwe over concerns of land seizure by the government and human rights violations, Mugabe had become even closer to Beijing, in what he used to refer to as his Turn East Policy.
 
But diminishing returns can only be tolerated for so long and the straw that broke the camel’s back may well have been Mugabe’s threat to nationalise his country’s lucrative diamond mines.

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