It is almost inconceivable that a head of state desperate to obtain investment from friendly countries around the world should exclude the captains of industry and other private-sector luminaries from his schedule.
After all, they know how mechanisms in the world of business function.
That includes a world where China is increasingly becoming business-minded and Zimbabwe is stuck in the proverbial mud, disconnected from the patterns of trade and investment that drive the economies of successful states.
Indeed, what can you say to a country that continues in its old ways while its previous partner moves on.
CNN chose this week to focus its Cold War series on China — and what an insight it was.
Thirty million lives sacrificed on the altar of the Great Leap Forward of 1958. Mao Zedong used the Great Leap to consolidate his power in the face of a number of challenges.
And when that terrible waste of human lives was exhausted, Mao proceeded with another sacrifice — the brutal Cultural Revolution of 1966 when children were taught to betray their parents.
It was interesting to see the rivalry with Russia and then the Ping Pong diplomacy with the US.
There was an amusing exchange when President Richard Nixon and his party were shown around a museum. One item caught the president’s attention. What were those objects, he asked? They were ear blocks designed to prevent the emperor in ancient times hearing bad things about himself.
“Give me a couple,” Nixon quipped.
Mao’s wife grew powerful during the Cultural Revolution and perpetrated many of the abuses that took place during that ruthless period.
Children were separated from their parents, pets banished from the capital.
When it finally was all over, China was reconstructed along capitalist lines by Deng Xiaoping who famously remarked he didn’t mind what colour his cat was so long as it caught mice.
Today China is a country that launches rockets and aircraft carriers while its admiring ally in Harare is as backward today as it was in 1978.
We must not forget however, that China has not all been progress. Mao’s widow Jiang Quing was part of the Gang of Four who imposed a vicious authority on post-Maoist China.
The Chinese authorities were equally severe in the conquest of Tibet and its subjugation. More recently the victims of Han colonialism have been the uygurs, a moslem minority.
China has made no attempt to improve its human rights record in its dependencies where Han Chinese rule. Come to think of it, Harare is beginning to look a bit like a Chinese dependency.
Tony Leon, in the Sunday Times, has waded into the Madonsela debate where he makes some useful points.
“Weary readers might recall,” he says, regarding the Nkandla affair, “that Zuma’s response was to instruct a subordinate, the Minister of Police, to determine his culpability for any of the costs for improvements to his private residence.”
What Madonsela didn’t say but which the American author Upton Sinclair once famously did say, is that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it”.
The ANC has predictably launched a “fight back” saying Madonsela was undermining parliament, pursuing a personal matter, and playing to the gallery — all things that the ANC is doing representing a direct assault on her office and independence in violation of the constitution .
“How much more damage,” Leon asked, “can the constitutional instruments designed to combat corruption and rein in the abuse of office withstand, especially from those charged with protecting them?”
“Long ago,” Leon reminded his readers,” and not in Russia but in its nemesis, the US, a famous independent voice of warning sounded in a dissenting judgement against the encroachment of the state pursuing improper ends.
In 1928 Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: “Our government teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the law breaker it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
“Wise and prophetic words in the US then, and for South Africa right now,” Leon concludes.
We know who we could add as well!
“Anyone who misdirects their focus to dwell on petty, narrow and immature politics is not only showing disrespect to President Mugabe who is genuinely determined to improve the welfare of the people but is on the wrong side of history and should be ashamed of himself.”
Those are the words of Zanu PF publicist Rugare Gumbo. He has been busy dreaming up salutations to greet our leader on his return from China.
“Thank God the Chinese trip comes as a wake-up call and enjoins all of us to focus on real issues and to give President Mugabe the support he needs in order to steer the country in the right economic direction in keeping with our promise of July 31 2013.”
So the Great Helmsman is in need of further support. His trip comes as a wake-up call to steer the country in the right direction. Presumably it was headed in the wrong direction before the Great Helmsman woke us up!
There are all sorts of dangers around. We should be wary of elements that feign love for President Mugabe and Zanu PF but their real agenda is to divert President Mugabe’s attention from the core business of government in order to create problems for the party and for President Mugabe in 2018 when elections are due.
“This is unacceptable behaviour which smacks of deceit and a very high level of wickedness.”
“We have always known that there is a regime change agenda in place,” Rugare says, “only this time it is being pushed by our own people under the guise of loving President Mugabe.”
Muckraker was enjoying this gospel according to Rugare when it suddenly dawned why it all looked a tad familiar.
It was written in the Chinese style. We are told for instance that we are “forging ahead” with ZimAsset when there is no evident of any forging anywhere.
The agreements signed in Beijing will see a major boost in the energy, roads, railways, agriculture and tourism, we are told.
So why were none of these things achieved before July 2013? Zanu PF had 34 years to implement such development plans but didn’t get around to it. So what makes us think the Great Leap Forward will leap anywhere this time?
Except of course a leap in the dark!