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A member of a Zimbabwean opposition party has called for all Chinese nationals to be kicked out of the southern African country.
“[Chinese nationals] have contributed nothing of value except to aid a corrupt and repressive political system while looting away our national resources,” Willias Madzimure, the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) secretary for international relations wrote in an editorial on Monday (May 16). “The PDP calls on all Zimbabweans and other international stakeholders to come together and call for the Chinese to exit our country immediately.”
Madzimure accuses Beijing of “bleeding” Zimbabwe’s economy by supporting president Robert Mugabe. Under Mugabe’s watch the country is now struggling with a cash shortage, high unemployment, and slow economic growth.
The PDP has minimal influence over a government dominated by Mugabe and his ruling party, ZANU-PF, but their calls reflect a growing backlash against Zimbabwe’s long-time partner.
For the past three decades, Zimbabwe has relied on China as an ally in the international community and as a trading partner. In 2008, Beijing vetoed a UN resolution that would have sanctioned Mugabe for orchestrating violence against opposition groups in a run-off election. As of last year, more than half of the country’s tobacco exports go to China, and the government recently adopted the Chinese yuan as one of Zimbabwe’s legal currencies. China is Zimbabwe’s top investor, with investment in agriculture and mining among other sectors reaching almost $50 million last year, according to China’s embassy in Harare.
Mugabe is also taking a harsher stance with Beijing. The 92-year-old ruler has ordered all foreign diamond mining companies, including large Chinese companies Anjin Investment and Jinan Mining, to turn their operations over to the government. Mugabe admitted in March that the country had lost $13 billion in potential revenues because of illicit trade in the diamond industry.
“On one hand, by aiding and abetting the criminal Mugabe regime and, on the other, salting away billions of dollars from the country, the Chinese are killing the country twice,” Madzimure said. “This is the worst kind of imperialism and as Zimbabweans we must rise and resist it.”