Zanu PF bigwigs have been looting and corruptly distributing donated Chinese rice worth tens of millions of dollars to ruling party supporters since last year, a shameful development that has apparently contributed to increasingly strained relations between Harare and Beijing.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News yesterday that the Chinese were “appalled and hopping mad” over this disgraceful conduct, after donating drought relief rice worth more than $24 million to Zimbabwe in 2015 alone — amid claims that some of the rice had been dished out to Zanu PF supporters at rallies across the country.
“The Chinese are currently being accused of many bad things, but they have done so much for Zimbabwe in the past few years. They have donated rice, built schools and done other things but the only thing that is said about them is all the negative things.
“As it is, I understand that the Chinese are appalled and hopping mad over this looting and misuse of the relief aid, as well as the growing criticism that their citizens are being subjected to in Zimbabwe, including by Zanu PF leaders,” one of the sources said.
Despite a desperate Zimbabwe’s Look East policy of the past two decades, and misplaced hopes in Harare that China is the country’s “all-weather friend” which will do anything for Zimbabwe, relations between Beijing and Harare have become increasingly lukewarm over the past two years for a number of reasons.
Apart from China now having to face its own economic demons, the Asian giant is displeased with the level of public sector corruption in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars that create political uncertainty, and the recent seizure of some of its companies operating in the Chiadzwa diamond mining fields.
It has apparently not helped matters that even President Robert Mugabe recently attacked some Chinese businesspeople as looters and less than honourable investors — while also charging that the Chinese were externalising the now scarce US dollars, and bizarrely also implying that their men were a threat to local women.
Efforts to speak to Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo did not yield results yesterday as his mobile phone was not available, while party national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere’s cellphone rang unanswered.
However, the well-placed Zanu PF sources who spoke to the Daily News asserted that the Chinese “are currently not very happy with both the government and Zanu PF”, and were also apparently exploring alternative ways of distributing relief aid directly to the needy in Zimbabwe.
“Their perception is that we are generally useless and only good at looting and politicking. As a result of all this, they are said to be investigating alternative ways of distributing their food donations to the country to stop the loping and abuse of this aid.
“As to the wars in the party (Zanu PF), they don’t seem to understand why this is going on and why Lacoste (Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa) is not fit to succeed Gushungo (Mugabe),” another source said.
The rumblings from China follow recent consternation about Zanu PF’s abuse of the government’s $98 million agricultural equipment loan facility with Brazil, which was offered under the Zimbabwe-Brazil More Food for Africa Programme.
Opposition leaders have consistently queried why the ruling party, which has in its grip all levers of power, is abusing the loan facility by distributing tractors and other farming equipment at Zanu PF rallies, and along partisan lines.
A Chinese national who spoke to the Daily News yesterday also said despite the caricatures that they were unethical, Beijing and its citizens had “done so, so much for Zimbabwe”, and for which they were not getting any credit.
“Perhaps we don’t pay as much as others, but we are still providing jobs and a means to a relatively decent life for many Zimbabweans. China is also one of the biggest investors and food donors in Zimbabwe.
“Despite all this, Anjin was kicked out of Marange diamond fields after doing so many good community projects. So, while the Chinese are investing heavily in Zimbabwe, they are not being appreciated at all,” he said.
Addressing the ruling party’s national consultative meeting in Harare a fortnight ago, Mugabe shocked gathered bigwigs when he took a dig at the Chinese.
“In South Africa, I heard they refused the Zhing-zhong (derisive name for cheap Chinese goods). They take money to their country, they don’t put their money in banks, ipapo shamwari dzedu dzechiChina ndipo padzinokanganisa (That’s where our Chinese friends err).
“Ndizvo zviviri zvatakaona zvinotinyangadza pamaitiro avo (These are two of the problems that irritate us about them). They come here, you work together, you share the money, but they will not put their money in the bank. Instead, they send it to their home,” he said regarding claims of externalising money.
Mugabe also complained that most of the Chinese who were coming to Zimbabwe were males who allegedly ended up impregnating local women.
“Zvino ruzhinji rwacho vanongouya varume voga voga ndokuti kudiii ikoko (Most of the Chinese who come here are only males. What is that about?)”
“They don’t come with their wives. Those who come here are not young boys, they are not students. When they come here they spend two to three years without going back home.
“Ivo varume vari pano ndingade kukunzwai kubva kunapresident, vice president angagara makore mashanu iye anga ari murume wemhuri achingotarisa chete vasikana ava (there is no man among us who can go for five years without a relationship with a woman)”.
“They end up leaving coloureds (mixed race children) here. If you go to their country they don’t want their girls to be married by others and they don’t allow anyone to play with their girls.
“They must bring their families kwete kuuya marori nemarori avo (and not come in truckloads of men). They remain our friends and we are going to engage their leaders on these two issues,” he thundered