Understanding Zim’s Look East policy
Obi Egbuna Jnr Simunye
Whenever President Mugabe and ZANU-PF are questioned by Diaspora based Africans, especially the so-called African Americans, concerning their relationship with the Chinese; past and present, we hope each and every inquisitor is pointed in the direction of the nearest library.
Upon their arrival a copy of the speech given by the Pan African giant and freedom fighter Dr. WEB DuBois on his 91st birthday at the University of Peking will be handed to them, the quote that will be underlined is as follows:
“Africa does not ask alms from China nor from the Soviet Union nor from France, Britain nor the United States. It asks friendship and sympathy and no nation better than China can offer this to the Dark Continent. Let it be given freely and generously. Let Chinese visit Africa, send their scientists there and their artists and writers. Let Africa send its students to China and its seekers after knowledge. It will not find on earth a richer goal, a more promising mine of information”.
After the inquisitors receive this powerful historical reference, the question then becomes: “Will they be moved to join the fight to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe, or seek other additional excuses to stand on the sidelines along with those who have unwarranted criticism of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF and the Third Chimurenga, in the manner an alcoholic or heroine addict craves their next drink or needle in the vain?”
These sentiments rooted in apathy and fear were on display when the revolutionary government of Cuba announced to the world that they would begin engaging the Obama administration on normalised relations, this was followed by baseless gossip in these reactionary circles suggesting that our Sister Assata Shakur would be extradited back to Babylon by our Cuban comrades in order to gain the trust of US Imperialism.
As both President Mugabe and Commandante Raul Castro have grown accustomed to analyses from admirers, who find it immensely difficult to relinquish their fear of US imperialism, therefore creating the illusion of neutrality when it comes to the struggle to end the US blockade on Cuba and US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe, the resolve of their people to fight until their very last breathe of air and drop of blood.
Before these inquisitors stumbled on Zimbabwe’s Look East policy, some of them were parroting the baseless rhetoric of the late US Congressman Donald Payne who called Zimbabwe’s historic and groundbreaking land reclamation programme misguided and wrong, or calling the decision by the Zimbabwean, Namibian and Angolan military, known as Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, that prevented a US led reinvasion of the DRC adventurist and unnecessary.
When so-called African Americans and Africans throughout the Diaspora study the relationship between Zimbabwe and China, this should begin with the first five ZANU-PF guerillas who went to Beijing for military training; and the leader of the delegation was none other than one of Zimbabwe’s Vice Presidents, Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa.
After that introduction, they will eventually discover the essay entitled “Comrade Tongo: A Legend and Role Model” written by the former Zimbabwe ambassador to the US Dr Simbi Mubako, which reveals Zimbabwe’s boldest and patriotic guerilla fighter, Josiah Magama Tongogara in 1966 led 11 ZANU cadres to the Nanking Academy in China where they received training in mass mobilisation, military intelligence, political science, mass media and guerilla war strategies and tactics.
Before this life changing experience Zimbabweans who had demonstrated both the propensity and courage to take up arms, were limited to the ideological orientation of the Soviets that taught the quality of your weaponry determined the outcome of a war.
The lesson the inquisitors will hopefully receive is that the Chinese did not just show up in Zimbabwe in the new millennium with fancy Western attire and briefcases hoping to outbid US based Fortune 500 for access to Africa’s material wealth. In 2008 China along with the Soviet Union vetoed an attempt by US-EU imperialism to persuade the UN Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Zimbabwe,
If we are guided by the annals of history and not emotionalism or suspicion it should be clear this move by the Chinese was even more valuable than all the rifles and explosives they provided ZANU-PF guerillas at the height of the Second Chimurenga with. It should come as no surprise to Zimbabweans that a minute segment of Africans in the US and other parts of the Diaspora will argue that they should have fought the British and Rhodesians with spears and shields, and not received weapons from the Chinese because they are not daughters and sons of Africa.
These same Africans more than likely will thumb their nose when they think of Mozambique’s first President Samora Machel, who provided President Mugabe and ZANU-PF with physical space for their guerilla stations, and ZANU-PF openly boasted how FRELIMO guerillas studied the lessons of the Vietnamese Guerilla icon General Giap. This naïve outlook positions those who fall for the imperialist propaganda to discuss Gukurahundi and say President Mugabe and ZANU-PF should have never sent soldiers to be trained by North Koreans in the first place.
We as Africans at home and abroad have to recognise that strengthening genuine solidarity is a crucial part of defending your national sovereignty, and it is by no means a deviation from a strong nationalist and Pan-Africanist foundation, which comrades and detractors alike, acknowledge has guided President Mugabe and ZANU-PF from the beginning.
In the essay “China contributes to the African Green Revolution” Kizito Sikuka highlights the Gwebi Agricultural Demonstration Centre outside Harare built by the Chinese, which since 2012 has trained 3 000 students and farmers. Control of the centre was handed over by China to Zimbabweans later in 2015.
The centre was leasing farming equipment such as tractors and combined harvesters for the purpose of boosting agricultural mechanisation in Zimbabwe. There will be 20 similar centres built in Africa with seven already in existence in southern Africa where 62 percent of the SADC region depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This should further explain SADC nations’ love affair with Zimbabwe’s land reclamation programme and President Mugabe.
The inquisitors could possibly make the outrageous demand that President Mugabe should bulldose Mahusekwa Hospital, commonly referred to as the China-Zimbabwe Friendship Hospital (built by the Chinese a few years ago), and let Doctors without Borders who refuse to acknowledge the impact of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe’s health ministry and infrastructure ,along with pro-imperialist health driven NGOs, heal our sick.
This explains why when President Mugabe announced the Look East policy in 2005 US State Department officials immediately felt the need to begin measures aimed at damage control, and if the truth be told, President Obama and these inquisitors of the Look East policy would celebrate like Brazilians during carnival if Africa would tell the Chinese that AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunity Act) introduced by the Clinton administration is a more viable option.
For these inquisitors amongst us at home and abroad who have become accustomed to tooting their own horn, which has contaminated our movement to say the least the humble example of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF provide in terms of shaping Mother Africa’s political direction and approach revolutionary solidarity, teaches opportunists and political prostitutes the importance of staying the course.
- Obi Egbuna Jnr is the US correspondent to The Herald and the external relations officer of ZICUFA(The Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association). His email is [email protected]