Embrace leadership change, China tells developing world

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THE Communist Party of China (CPC), which has strong ties with Zanu PF dating back to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle in the 1970s, has urged developing countries to open up their markets, clamp down on corruption and develop a culture of leadership renewal if they are to attract foreign direct investment and be economically successful.

Elias Mambo in Beijing, China

Addressing African, Latin American, Middle East and Asian ministers of information yesterday in Beijing, China, Liu Junjie, a professor in the department of comparative social systems in the CPC School of the Central Committee, said developing countries like Zimbabwe should emulate the CPC which has opened up its economy and now has a tradition of changing its leadership every 10 years.

After Mao Zedong’s disastrous land reform programme and his Great Leap Forward before his death in 1976, China has been rapidly changing. From 1978, China, with the late Deng Xiaoping in charge, has gradually pursued market economy reforms, creating an investment-and-export-led economy which has now become the second largest in the world. The key to China’s success has been vision, leadership renewal, reform, as well as investor-friendly policies and property rights.

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“Since Deng Xiaoping took over the leadership of the party, he introduced serious reforms which included opening up of the market systems,” Liu said.

“Combined with these reforms, CPC has also developed a leadership renewal process where leaders only serve for two terms (five years each). We have set up a collective leadership code where we encourage our leaders to stop creating life time leaders.

“Our politburo has only seven members who make crucial decisions and these people also serve two-year terms each.”
Liu also urged developing countries to tackle corruption if their countries are to be successful. The Chinese professor further said leaders should have a code of conduct and be elected to positions on merit, not other considerations.

“The code of conduct for these leaders must include declaring their assets, so as to combat corruption,” said Liu.
“We do not entertain underperforming leaders here and we are cracking down on corrupt tendencies of those in positions of leadership.”

A Chinese Court in June sentenced former state security chief Zhou Yongkang to life in prison for bribery, abuse of power and international disclosure of state secrets, cementing the CPC pledge to prosecute high-level corruption.

The same message was delivered to Zanu PF chairpersons when they visited China in 2012 where they received ideological and mass mobilisation training from the CPC ahead of the 2013 elections.

Chinese officials told them Zanu PF should embrace change or die.

The visit came at a time when CPC, which has been ruling since the end of the civil war in 1949, was preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership change and power transfer.

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao handed over power Xi Jinping, then 59, at the party’s congress in 2012.
By contrast President Robert Mugabe (91) has been at the helm of Zanu PF since 1977 and has also ruled the country since Independence in 1980.

When Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited China in July the Chinese mandarins were also very open and told him about the need to have leadership renewal and to fight corruption among other things.

They raised fears about Mugabe’s age, 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 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.

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