Letter from Zimbabwe: Comrades Look East

In a six-week series, little comrade TENDAI MARIMA takes a look at what the big comrades in the Zimbabwean government are getting up to. This week Vice President and Comrade Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s jet-setting deal-making is under the spotlight.

On behalf of every card-carrying comrade of the revolutionary republic, sick and tired of living hand to mouth, surviving on the bare minimum in our free and sovereign country, I’d like to propose a toast to Vice President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa for his sterling effort in chasing mega-deals for Zimbabwe.

Desperately in need of friends with cash, the comrade has hopped on a plane and gone from Beijing to Belarus (yes Belarus!) with one hand on his heart and a begging bowl in the other.

While some people throw bones for luck, we throw baby elephants and young lions. Paving the way for the comrade’s visit, dozens of animals were shipped and sold to Chimelong Paradise in Guangzhou in southern China. This safari park wouldn’t win world’s best animal sanctuary award, but the creatures from the wild will probably earn their keep turning tricks for the circus at the command of whip-cracking instructors.

Back in Beijing, the comrade followed up on agreements made last year by Supreme Comrade-in-Charge, President Robert Mugabe and China’s most famous cave-dweller, President Xi Jinping. The comrade closed in on deals for many more concessional loans and Chinese partnerships in agriculture, communication technology and industry.

Crafty or desperate, call it what you will, the comrade had the good courage to go on Chinese national television and admit to 20 years of poor achievement. No doubt, the violent land grabs and 51% black-ownership policies haven’t reeled in hordes of investors, but it’s the Goddamn sanctions that’ve done us in! Thanks to the “gay gangsters”, George Bush and Tony Blair, Zimbabwe is two decades behind on development and investment, trailing the rest of southern Africa.

That’s why the Great King of Africa, AU chairman Mugabe, was likely limited to shopping on Fifth Avenue between breaks at a recent UN ebola conference in New York. Under a US travel ban since 2001, the Great Comrade can only move within a 25-mile radius restricting him to a few lonely streets of Manhattan and the Upper Eastside. At least he made sure he was accompanied by a delegation big enough to carry all his shopping bags if he decided to venture out.

Meanwhile his deputy, the comrade in question, is still on the hunt for the loot. And so, last Friday, he flew to Minsk. For his troubles, he received a warm welcome in the Belarusian capital and President Alexander Lukashenko signed several trade agreements to supply $150-million worth of agricultural, mining and road construction equipment. Lukashenko, head of the country sometimes known as Europe’s last dictatorship, has also suggested setting up a vehicle maintenance centre in Zimbabwe that could establish Belarus’s entry into Africa.

Who needs the West when you can look East, eh? The European Union and the US can sanction Belarus for holding too many political prisoners and hate on China for stealing the title of world’s largest economy from the world’s biggest bully, but they have a friend in Zimbabwe. Haters fall back, us comrades stick together forever, backwards never!

Yours in Arms

The Little Comrade

Ps – FYI, the Comrade will make that trip to Paris soon, like a boss. Show me the money!

Tendai Marima profileTendai Marima is freelance journalist and researcher, follow her on Twitter.

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