Military Review

Diamonds, Crocodile Ngwena and China

A military coup in Zimbabwe last month, 14-15 in November 2017, was already history. Robert Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, was removed from power. The era of the rule of this odious, but bright and distinctive leader is over. In fact, there was nothing unexpected in the coup in this South African country. The political controversies in Zimbabwe have reached their apogee, aggravated by the economic crisis and Africa’s traditional tribal and inter-clan confrontation. It was clear that the aged Mugabe was losing control of the situation. Apparently, his entourage was waiting for the natural care of the leader, but the 93-year-old leader was not going to leave - neither from his life nor from the post of head of state. But increasingly they talked about the presidential ambitions of his wife Grace Mugabe. Grace - 52, the life activity of her does not take away. But Mrs. Mugabe was never able to crush the Zimbabwean hierarchical system. Tribal differences are still very strong in Africa. Grace comes from the Lemba nation, and Shona has always dominated Zimbabwe. Shona also includes Robert Mugabe himself and most of the Zimbabwean military and political elite.

Diamonds, Crocodile Ngwena and China

Naturally, the attitude to Grace was far from the best, especially since the ex-First Lady herself managed to spoil him pretty well with her antics and unconcealed presidential ambitions. Veterans of the national liberation war, who were at the forefront of the independence of the state of Zimbabwe, felt themselves slighted by some secretary from another tribe who had become the first lady. However, the authority of Robert Mugabe up to a certain time allowed Grace to feel relatively safe and to continue backstage intrigues and power struggles. But everything comes to an end. The first lady underestimated the possibilities of war veterans. The main opponent of Grace in the fight for leadership was Emmerson Mnangagwa nicknamed "Crocodile".

The representative of the Sharan tribe's Karang tribe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been in the country's top government posts since Zimbabwe’s political independence was proclaimed in 1980. Until recently, Mnangagwa served as First Vice President, in 2009-2013. was the country's defense minister, in 1989-2000. - Minister of Justice, and in 1980-1988. - Minister of State Security. The nickname "Crocodile" (Ngwena) Mnangagva received by the name of the reconnaissance and sabotage group with the same name in which he served during the struggle for independence. This old partisan, born in 1942, received military training in Tanzania, then in the FRELIMO camps in Mozambique, and studied in China. The main Zimbabwean intelligence service, the Central Intelligence Organization, is the brainchild of Crocodile.

The conflict between the faithful Crocodile and the first lady escalated in the fall of 2017. The position of Mnangagwa is shaky. At the November 4 rally, President Mugabe publicly called his old comrade a "coward", and on November 6 fired him from his post as first vice president. By this, Grace Mugabe, and it was clear to everyone that it was the first lady who was behind the Crocodile’s resignation, finally brought up the military elite of the country — the generals who participated in the national liberation struggle and were convinced that it was a veteran of the war of independence, and not some yesterday's secretary of the president, should lead the country after the departure of Mugabe.

13 November 2017, Army General Konstantin Chivenga - commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, held a press conference at which he promised to intervene in the army if the squeezing of the national liberation struggle ceased to end. In response, supporters of Grace Mugabe, clearly overestimating their capabilities, fell down with public criticism on Chivengu. 14 November 2017, armored vehicles appeared on the streets of the capital, Harare. On November 15, Chief of Staff of the Defense Forces of Zimbabwe, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, spoke on the air and said that the military targets are the criminals who surrounded Mugabe and are responsible for all the problems in the country. So the coup became a fait accompli, and on November 19 Emmerson Mnangagwa at the party congress of the Zimbabwe African National Union - the Patriotic Front was elected chairman and first secretary. Five days later, on November 24, Crocodile took the oath of a new president of Zimbabwe.

Immediately after the change of power in the country in the world, they talked about the future prospects for the political and economic development of Zimbabwe. The country has been in a state of progressive socio-economic crisis for a very long time. Despite the rich natural resources, Zimbabwe is rapidly "rolling down." The influx of foreign investment into the country in recent years has only declined; economic problems in neighboring South Africa have led to the fact that Zimbabwean guest workers employed in South African industry and agriculture sent their families less money. These circumstances contributed to the growth of dissatisfaction with the government’s policy, and the military and Mnangagwa now skillfully presented the situation as if the “40-year-olds” —the group that had gathered around Grace Mugabe — were the main culprits.

It can easily be predicted that the removal of Mugabe from power will be used by the new leaders of the country to alleviate the socio-economic situation. The reason for asking for help from international organizations and other states is very significant - Mugabe was an odious president and for a long time in the West caused only negative emotions. Obviously, Zimbabwe will continue to cooperate with its two largest partners. The first is China. Back at the beginning of the 1980's. the pro-Chinese line prevailed in the country's leadership, whose supporters defeated the pro-Soviet wing of the former partisan movement. In China, many representatives of the political elite of modern Zimbabwe, including the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, were trained.

China began a systematic "development" of Zimbabwe as early as the 1980s, trying to turn the former British colony into the main springboard of its economic and political influence in southern Africa. Over the past decades, the PRC has become a major economic partner of Zimbabwe. In particular, Beijing is making large-scale investments in the Zimbabwean economy. After inflation in Zimbabwe reached unbelievable proportions and even a bill with a denomination of 100 trillions of Zimbabwean dollars appeared, the country temporarily abandoned its own currency and took to circulation the American dollar and the South African rand. Then the Chinese yuan was added to the list of major currencies of Zimbabwe. This is clear evidence of the role that China plays in the Zimbabwean economy. Chinese interest in Zimbabwe is due to the wealth of the mineral resources of this country. In the structure of Zimbabwean exports, 18% accounts for gold, 17% - for ferroalloys, 9% - for diamonds. When a military coup occurred in Harare, many analysts saw the hand of China in dramatic events. Apparently, in Beijing it was not so much decided that the elderly Mugabe would have enough control over the country, as they were concerned about the possible transition of Zimbabwe under the control of the West if Mugabe changed his wife Grace and the group of “forty-year-olds”. From this point of view, pro-Chinese veterans of the national liberation war are much more reliable.

The first high-ranking foreign politician to visit Zimbabwe after the change of power was the special envoy, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, Chen Xiaodong. The representative of China confirmed Beijing’s readiness to continue its investment policy in Zimbabwe, including implementing the program on prisoners in 2014-2015. investment projects for 4 billion dollars. Thus, China has shown that, in general, it supports the changes taking place in the political life of the country and is not going to give up the role of the main patron of Zimbabwe.

It is obvious that a coup in Zimbabwe and the removal of Mugabe from power will not entail any major consequences for the West. The United States and Great Britain have a longstanding “tooth” in Zimbabwe, one of the few African countries that is pointedly oriented towards China and consistently adheres to anti-colonial rhetoric. The ideology of anti-colonialism lies at the core of the domestic and foreign policies of modern Zimbabwe and the authorities are not going to abandon this paradigm.

Despite the fact that the new leaders of the country are focusing on the fight against corruption, it is clear that this task is set only for Grace Mugabe and her entourage. Former first lady made the main culprit of all the economic failures of the country. At the same time, Robert Mugabe himself retained tremendous life-long content and numerous privileges. By the way, in exchange for his resignation, Mugabe demanded security guarantees for his spouse - the authorities had to allow her to leave the country unhindered. Actually, they did it - Grace already 15 November flew out of Zimbabwe. Many representatives of her entourage were less fortunate - a number of ministers resigned, many were arrested.

Russia and Zimbabwe also have special relations, although Moscow, of course, does not have such an influence on the politics and economy of this country as Beijing. However, Moscow still in the 2008 year, along with Beijing, vetoed another attempt to impose sanctions on Harare. Zimbabwe is also not in debt. In particular, Robert Mugabe took the pro-Russian position on the Crimean events. So, already in December 2014, a peninsula that became part of the Russian Federation, was visited by the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate of Zimbabwe, Savior Kasukuvere. Robert Mugabe arrived in Russia during the Victory Parade in Moscow 9 May 2015.

Although the trade between Russia and Zimbabwe cannot be called big - it is only 48 million dollars, Moscow expects to increase the scale of cooperation with this state. Thus, possible cooperation in the diamond and gold mining industry, in the development of the Darwendeyl platinum deposit, was discussed. Zimbabwe expressed willingness to invite Russian companies to participate in the development of mineral resources and the development of its mining industry. 8 April 2014 of the year for the development of the Darwendale platinum deposit was created by a consortium consisting of Vi Holding, Rostec and VEB. In 2015, large-scale geological exploration began at the Darwendale deposit. But China remains the main buyer of platinum, and the future of the joint Russian-Zimbabwean project will also depend on the position of the Chinese leadership regarding the change of power in Zimbabwe.

Presidential elections are expected in the summer of 2018 in Zimbabwe. It is clear that Crocodile will be the main candidate - Mugabe's 75-year-old successor is not going to give up power, which so suddenly ended up in his hands. It was Mnangagwu who nominated the Zimbabwe African National Union - the Patriotic Front - the country's ruling party. Last year, the then head of state Robert Mugabe declared his presidential ambitions, but now these statements are in the past. Neutralized and Grace, which could become a serious contender Mnangagve. Crocodile is supported by a fairly powerful and influential community - veterans of the national liberation struggle. This includes almost all generals and most senior officers of the Zimbabwean army and security forces, many politicians and businessmen. Naturally, this group also enjoys broad support from the population, primarily due to its status as “heroes of the struggle for independence”.

As for the former opposition, all its activities were built on the fight against the “personality cult” of Mugabe. Now the position of the opposition has become complicated - Mugabe as president is no longer there, which means there is no point in broadcasting about the fight against the dictator, who has been in power for almost 40 years. It is possible to predict the gradual dissolution of the more conformist part of the opposition in the ruling party.

On the other hand, the opposition can support the candidacy of Morgan Tsvangirai - this country-famous politician, in 2009-2013. who led the country's government, flew to Zimbabwe from Moscow immediately after the news of the coup. In Russia, Tsvangirai was undergoing treatment for cancer. Both poor health and poor experience at the head of the government do not allow Tsvangirai to be regarded as a worthy candidate capable of opposing Emmerson Mnangagwe. Apparently, Zimbabwe is coming years in the strong hands of the Crocodile, and how profitable it is for Russia and whether the economic situation of this country will change, time will tell.
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  1. dzvero
    dzvero 15 December 2017 17: 19
    Another competent analysis from the author - all on the shelves. And then nothing was clear - who wanted to eat whom and how smile And suddenly - Sherche la fam ... Classic! Yes, and not every first lady manages to provoke a military coup against herself smile
    1. seti
      seti 15 December 2017 21: 28
      Valid solid article. Thank.
    2. Megatron
      Megatron 16 December 2017 01: 09
      KONSTANTIN Chivenga, was born in the USSR?
  2. Type 63
    Type 63 15 December 2017 18: 11
    Thanks for the article, it is interesting to know what is happening in the world. You won’t learn anything worthwhile from our media :(
    MOSKVITYANIN 16 December 2017 02: 05
    you can see our man ...
  4. kipage
    kipage 16 December 2017 15: 55
    Black and white)
    A little head is a little head))
    And the article is a plus
  5. Conductor
    Conductor 16 December 2017 23: 25
    The black lady climbed into politics; they didn’t eat well.
  6. polkovnik manuch
    polkovnik manuch 17 December 2017 16: 53
    I read with interest, a lot for the first time!
  7. zyzx
    zyzx 18 December 2017 14: 21
    That tribe, this tribe, the Negro, he is the Negro,
    1. Seal
      Seal 19 December 2017 08: 56
      Yes, in general, here, in Dagestan, for example, the same thing. So I had to send recently to the post of President - Russian.