In the past couple of days I’ve been wondering what’s really going on behind the scenes in Zimbabwe. Many rumours have been in circulation, but I wasn’t too sure what to make of them. But now I’ve sniffed a very foul smell wafting from much further than Zimbabwe or Southern Africa — it comes all the way from across the ocean.
We are officially held in suspension about the election results, hope on a day-to-day basis they might get released — and then, of course, they are not — and watch how Morgan Tsvangirai almost desperately meets African leaders to get their support … and is fibbed off with rather empty promises, half-hearted attempts to pressurise Zanu-PF or, even worse, Mbeki’s now famous “Crisis? What crisis?” response that he quickly turned into a “loud diplomacy doesn’t work” scenario.
But on Wednesday, some pieces of the Zim puzzle fell into place for me. It happened when I read that a Chinese-flagged cargo ship was trying to dock in Durban harbour to off-load weapons for Zimbabwe …while, almost at the same time, George W Bush, who hasn’t wasted any of his precious thoughts on Zimbabwe so far (why should he — no oil there), all of a sudden decided to have a chat with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the topic.
The situation in Zim needs to be “resolved peacefully and soon” and has been “going on for too long”, announced Bush, pretty much out of the blue. Why the sudden interest? This surely isn’t about a newly found concern for human rights and democracy. No, Bush would not waste his energy on a country from which he cannot gain anything. So what’s in it for him?
It is an open secret that Mugabe has built a tight relationship with Chinese President Hu Jintao (who, for all we know, might be the one who shipped the weapons) and cut some deals over the past few years (for example in mid-2005, when he signed an aid deal with China that promised mineral and other trade concessions in exchange for economic help). And China, hardly affected by the global economic downturn, is the only major threat to the US’s world reign right now.
And so, putting two and two together, it seems as if George W sees the Zimbabwe crisis as a perfect opportunity to fight out his last battle for world hegemony (US versus China), and I wouldn’t be surprised he wants to do this conveniently on African ground. Casualties of this dirty war will (apart from a few soldiers on both sides) just be some poor Africans who die like flies from other causes anyway (hunger, HIV/Aids, lack of sanitation, lack of access to healthcare). We know for a fact that the so-called world community hasn’t cared much about the people of Zimbabwe in the recent years, so why would it now?
It looks like Zimbabwe will become the perfect battleground for world power …