STRAIGHT-TALKING Chinese leaders reportedly gave Vice- President Emmerson Mnangagwa a sobering reality check when he visited Beijing last week by raising several critical issues that President Robert Mugabe and his government usually feel uncomfortable dealing with.
While moving to ring-fence their growing investment portfolios and future prospects by inviting and engaging their preferred successor to President Robert Mugabe-Mnangagwa-the Chinese raised a number of concerns about Zimbabwe, some which later found expression in the vice-president’s largely candid interview with CCTV.
Diplomats who followed Mnan- gagwa’s visit and officials who were part of the delegation to Beijing said this week Chinese mandarins raised fears about Mugabe’s age, Zanu PF leadership renewal, Zimbabwe’s investment climate and ease of doing business, the country’s relations with Western countries, government’s failure to tackle corruption and bureaucratic red tape, among other thorny issues. The Chinese also said they are worried about Zimbabwe’s high political, economic and country risks, as well as poor credit rating, sources added.
Sources said Mnangagwa was addressed by his hosts on the need to create a conducive investment environment, uphold property rights and to adhere to corporate governance.
The Chinese also used their own history as a point of reference and their country as a model of how Zimbabwe can come out of the economic doldrums and move forward.
They also felt Zimbabwean government officials were expending energy and wasting time on internal power struggles because of Mugabe’s succession, rather than fixing the economy and attracting investment.
“The Chinese were very open with the Zimbabwean delegation, as they have been of late.
On the second day of the visit Wang Jiarui, Minister of International Departments, for instance, did not mince his words: he told Mnangagwa that Mugabe’s age is contributing to the Chinese’s lack of confidence in investing in the country as it now part of political risk,” a senior government official, who was part of the delegation, said.”Jiarui said while the Chinese appreciate the role Mugabe, 91, played during Zimbabwe’s liberation and post-independence eras, they feel he needs to rest and hand over power to someone from a younger generation with the energy and fresh ideas to tackle the country’s economic challenges.
“He also said the Chinese had been open with Mugabe himself when he visited them in August last year, as they urged him to resolve the succession issue and ensure leadership renewal like they do once every 10 years so that the country shifts gears and moves forward.”