While Western governments were reluctant to dole out foreign aid for Zimbabwe, China apparently, is not, today offering up a nearly billion-dollar line of credit to the impoverished nation.
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai spent the past three weeks on tour, visiting Western heads of state (including Barack Obama), hoping to put together an aid package that would plug the $8 billion hole in his country’s economy. But despite Tsvangirai’s attempts to put a good face on the tour (like touting the $150 million in aid from the European Union), Western governments were skeptical (make that very skeptical) about the power-sharing deal between Tsvangirai and long-time President Robert Mugabe, and largely decided to take a wait-and-see attitude towards giving Zimbabwe aid – wanting to first see real signs of change before investing large sums of money in the country.
A collection of Zimbabwean exiles also decided it’s best to wait and see, even shouting down Tsvangirai’s request that they return home during a meeting with the exile community in London. His ‘partner’, Mugabe took the chance to slam his PM for the poor results of his tour, saying that the Western governments were “imperialists” (the standard Mugabe refrain) and chiding Tsvangirai that they were not his friends.
But then there’s China. While Tsvangirai was away, Chinese officials hashed out a deal with Zimbabwe’s finance minister to provide a $950 million line-of-credit to the nation, apparently with no strings attached.
It’s another example of the differing ways the West and China are approaching Africa these days. Western governments are increasingly linking foreign aid to government reforms – they want to see that African governments are spending the aid money responsibly (and not just dumping it in the Swiss bank accounts of the president’s inner circle), and that governments are responsive to the people – fair elections, a free press, and all those sorts of things. China, meanwhile, has just been tossing huge amounts of cash around, with few strings attached.
Of course the motivation for China’s investment in Africa is to secure raw materials for the ever-expanding manufacturing base that drives their economy. Zimbabwe is no exception – the country is rich in minerals, including: platinum, nickel, zinc, tin, coal and to top it off, diamonds. China’s hoping that a billion dollar line-of-credit will them get more access to Zimbabwe’s mineral reserves.
3 days ago