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Mugabe sells bankrupt Zimbabwe's assets to China

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/mugabe-sells-bankrupt-zimbabwes-assets-to-china/2005/07/29/1122144020857.html?oneclick=true Mugabe sells bankrupt
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2005
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      http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/mugabe-sells-bankrupt-zimbabwes-assets-to-china/2005/07/29/1122144020857.html?oneclick=true

      Mugabe sells bankrupt Zimbabwe's assets to China
      By Rochelle Mutton
      Age correspondent
      Johannesburg
      July 30, 2005

      "We will never be a colony again!" This has been the
      catch-cry of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
      throughout his 25-year reign.

      But while he rails against perceived imperialist,
      colonial agendas and denounces anything white-skinned
      or Western, Mr Mugabe has spent this week in China
      signing over his bankrupt country's resources to the
      Asian economic superpower.

      Analysts claim the Chinese are forging a "colonial
      extractive relationship" with Zimbabwe, which has sold
      forward more than a year's worth of gold and tobacco
      production in exchange for Chinese military hardware
      and diplomatic support.

      Zimbabwe is the world's fastest shrinking economy and
      as it looks east for a saviour, China has a keen eye
      on the southern African nation's rich platinum
      deposits.

      During a six-day visit to China this week, Mr Mugabe,
      banned from Western countries including Australia, was
      warmly greeted by Chinese President Hu Jintao as "an
      old friend" and given a professorship.

      But as Mr Mugabe turns to the Chinese to solve
      Zimbabwe's $US4.5 billion ($A5.89 billion) debt
      migraine, commentators such as University of
      Zimbabwe's Professor Brian Raftopoulos are concerned
      the relationship will cost Zimbabwe dearly.
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      "The Chinese have a huge interest in extractive
      industries everywhere. Their influence is certainly
      growing in Africa, not just in Zimbabwe but Angola,
      Sudan and elsewhere," he said yesterday. "But of
      course it will be at high cost to Zimbabwe. It's
      almost a colonial extractive relationship that seems
      to be developing."

      While Mr Mugabe was coy about the exact nature of his
      deals with the Chinese, Zimbabwean economist Eddy
      Cross claimed yesterday the Zimbabwean Government had
      forward-sold precious gold and tobacco to "pay" for
      Chinese-made military consignments that included 12
      jet fighters, three 60-seat turboprop planes and 700
      troop carriers.

      "We put the total of those transactions at about
      $US480 million and that was a cash deal that was done
      at the beginning of this year," Mr Cross said.

      "And to fund it the Government sold 25 tonnes of gold
      forward, speculatively, at a set price. We used to
      produce about three tonnes of gold a month. And they
      also sold some of the tobacco forward and the balance
      was found in cash."

      Zimbabwe has been condemned by the United Nations and
      Western countries for its two-month old demolition
      campaign Operation Murambatsvina — or "clean out the
      filth" — that has left 700,000 people homeless and
      affected a further 2.4 million.

      Described in a UN report as a disastrous venture with
      enormous humanitarian consequences, the action was
      believed to be retribution for the huge support for
      the opposition in the urban areas during the March
      elections.

      Starting on May 19, police spent weeks destroying the
      informal markets and homes of the urban poor, and are
      now rounding up these devastated masses and forcing
      them into holding camps. After a hasty screening, they
      are dumped hundreds of kilometres away, in the far
      reaches of the drought-stricken, landlocked country.

      Yet while the booming informal trading sector has been
      razed and goods either confiscated or destroyed, every
      Zimbabwean city is awash with cheap Chinese goods,
      from glassware to clothing and trinkets.

      Government contracts are awarded to Chinese businesses
      for major works such as hospitals and bridges.

      Mr Cross claims Chinese interests have also been given
      farms, from which some white Zimbabwean farmers were
      evicted allegedly on the basis of redistribution to
      landless blacks.

      "The Chinese have been granted the rights to develop
      100,000 hectares of irrigation land in the Mwenzi
      area, about 450 kilometres south of Harare," he said.

      "Also, they have been looking at a set of farms in the
      Banket-Raffingora area and these are farms on the
      Hanyani River and they constitute some of the largest
      farms in the Mashonaland area.

      "Settlers (newly established black residents) are
      being removed from those properties right now.
      Apparently this is what was agreed in Beijing, that
      the Chinese are going to take these properties over —
      and Chinese State farming organisations are actually
      going to run them."

      Zimbabwe, increasingly isolated internationally, is
      also expecting China to use its veto to block any
      censure at the UN Security Council.
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