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28/08/2014

Is Zimbabwe (and Africa) selling off to China?

In the past ten years, Zimbabwe has had a less than fruitful relationship with the West. As the land redistribution program to indigenous Zimbabweans turned murky, Western countries severed ties, and Zimbabwe was on an economic spiral downwards, as sanctions were imposed. A few weeks ago, the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, was not invited for the US-Africa summit, signalling a new low in the relations between Zimbabwe and the West. However, Zimbabwe is fighting back, and currently, President Mugabe is on a trip to China to secure several investment deals through the Zim-Asset project. The country's finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, insists that the trip is not for budgetary support, but for development projects. In the phase one of the projects last year, some $180 million of funding was signed, and this trip is expected to increase that amount even further.

However, this comes even as more diamond mines are discovered in Zimbabwe, and curiously, the diamond
mines have to be used as part of collateral for the loans. It is true that the West has not always given Africa the best deal in terms of trade, but is trade and investment with China any better, considering that these minerals are not even benefiting local Africans on the ground, as the money gets siphoned off through corruption? Or is China just building roads that will lead all the way to Beijing, with minerals and crucial raw materials on transit?

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