ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa has praised Chinese investment for changing the economic landscape in his country and other parts of Africa, while blasting the West for plundering African resources for decades.
In his weekly column for the government-run The Sunday Mail newspaper, Mnangagwa said that the Chinese investment’s late entry into Africa had made a telling difference over a short time.
‘They have brought value and employment to our economies and societies, enabled through mutually painful partnerships never experienced before in our troubled history as a continent,’ he wrote.
‘We have seen Chinese capital supporting landmark and iconic infrastructural projects across the African continent,’ he noted, adding, ‘Here in Zimbabwe, China has helped fund and implement several projects in the sectors of energy, air transport, water, real estate, industrial value addition, mining and defence.
‘All these have secured and bolstered our independence while changing the structure of our economy in this season of punitive Western sanctions,’ the president said.
However, the West, Mnangagwa said, has been unhappy about the Chinese footprint on the continent and advising African leaders to be wary of the Chinese, as well as the Russians, Indians, Brazilians and Arabs.
‘Apart from generous grants, interest-free or light loans, they have now come back to the continent they helped liberate as new, non-traditional investors. Read against time and historical circumstances, they are new and latecomers in this domain, unlike Western interests which have been exploiting our continent even well before its formal occupation,’ he said.
‘Including here in Zimbabwe, we have seen some Western governments sponsoring several false environmental and mining advocacy groups which seek to agitate communities against non-Western mining interests,’ he said. ‘Their advice to us is false and cynical; we reject it with utter contempt it deserves.’
Citing as an example Bikita Minerals, situated in the Bikita hills of Masvingo province in Zimbabwe, he said it is the West that sponsors the opposition to protest against the presence of Chinese miners in Bikita as the community’s claims are old ones traced back to when the mine was run by the Western owners.
‘Ironically, Bikita Minerals was only taken over by a Chinese investor earlier in the year, after being owned and exploited by Western interests for many years since the resource was discovered back in colonial days.
‘While those mining properties were in Western hands, both long before our independence and after, not once did the host communities benefit. Nor were host communities incited, mobilised and sponsored to defend their depletable resource and environment,’ he said.
The mine was on the brink of collapsing until the new investor rescued it and expanded its operations with fresh capital, thus securing jobs for Zimbabweans, he said.