Source: President Lukashenko, be warned, Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!
President Lukashenko, be warned, Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!
Ironically, yesterday, as the controversial dictator was being warmly welcomed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, in the capital Harare, by his counterpart, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – I was busy teaching my son on the history of the Mutapa State, which flourished in the northern part of ancient Zimbabwe, between the mid-15th and mid-17th centuries.
Interestingly, we were tackling the issue of several kings – most notably, Gatsi Rusere and Muvuka Mhande – whose weaknesses as leaders led them to be nothing more than puppets of the Portuguese, thereby signing trade deals which disadvantaged, and were detrimental to, the people of the Mutapa Empire.
In as much as the Portuguese had arrived portraying themselves as traders, who simply wanted to do business with the Mutapa State – largely in gold, silver and ivory – in the end (through numerous shenanigans, as meddling in succession disputes, providing arms to warring sides, and working with these puppet kings) they eventually took control of the empire, and practically ran the show.
This coincidence, as that is what I perceived it – between studying this dark episode of our country’s history, and the arrival of Lukashenko – was certainly not lost on me.
Let us remember that Zimbabwe is currently being led by a regime that undeniably lacks confidence – evidenced by its desperate quest for recognition and acceptance, especially on the global stage – as such, opening up the country to control by foreign entities.
That is why the Chinese – whom the Harare administration always tout as ‘all-weather friends’, in a partnership that is clearly between a horse and a rider – have virtually taken over Zimbabwe, most particularly in the mining sector, where they are allowed to ride roughshod over local communities with impunity.
Not a single business deal with the various Chinese firms, that have flocked Zimbabwe in a new scramble for our resources, has produced any recognizable benefits for local communities – most of whom, have, instead, been evicted and displaced from their ancestral lands.
In fact, the Mnangagwa regime appears to be the local ambassadors of China – as they fall over each other promoting and even defending the Asians, to the extent of the Zimbabwe president taking time off from his annual leave to deliver a special ‘New Year’ message to the Chinese last week.
I am, again, reminded of how the Portuguese ended up forcibly using the people of the Mutapa State as slave labour in gold mines – which they had grabbed from their rightful local owners – as well as selling others as slaves to Mozambique, after which, they were shipped off to Brazil to work on sugarcane plantations.
In present day Zimbabwe, we are witnessing similar scenes playing out again – and, the Belarusians are not to be left out of this drama.
I am sure the people of Zimbabwe still remember the dubious deal that raised a storm last year – in which the local government minister, July Moyo, forced all 92 local authorities to procure shockingly over-priced fire tenders from an Belarusian company, AFTRADE DMCC.
Each engine cost a staggering US$464,296 (totalling US$42 million) – yet, the same is priced at around US$26,000 and US$28,000 in Malaysia.
Surely, how was this dirty deal supposed to benefit residents, who have suffered immeasurably due to a severe dearth of service delivery at the hands of their cash-strapped local authorities?
Or, was there something in it for the Zimbabwe government, and the officials involved?
However, that was just child’s play compared to other unexplainable agreements entered into between Zimbabwe and Belarus.
In March 2018, Lukashenko deployed his trusted protégé, Viktor Sheiman, to ostensibly negotiate trade and business deals on behalf of Minsk – particularly, in the mining sector – which was subsequently struck.
Nonetheless, as it turned out, despite being touted as a government-to-government deal – it was actually between the government of Zimbabwe and Sheiman’s son, Sergei – whose company held 70 percent of the gold partnership, whilst the local ZMDC (Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation) only having 30 percent.
It does not stop there!
Sergei was not working alone, but together with the owner of the same AFTRADE DMCC, Aleksandr Zingman, which was involved in the over-priced fire tender deal – this time around, operating under the auspices of Zim Goldfields, through a UK shelf company, Midlands Goldfields Ltd.
According to the Pandora Papers, by a consortium of international investigative journalists – this shell company, owned by Sergei and Zingman, is registered in both the Seychelles and UK – supposedly to ‘mask their involvement and conflict of interest at the heart of the deal’.
Oh, and here is another intriguing fact – Zingman was appointed by Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe special consul in Belarus in 2019!
He was also the same guy who was arrested in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) for 12 days on allegations of being involved in shady arms dealings.
Of course, these Belarusian gold operations in Zimbabwe have not gone without controversy – with some suspicious deaths of two local miners on the Zim Goldfields site.
In a nutshell, the dealings between the Belarusians and Zimbabwe regime are extremely questionable – eerily resembling what happened between the Portuguese and puppet Mutapa kings.
Therefore, as Lukashenko visits Zimbabwe, we just want him to know that, as the country’s citizenry – who own all the land and the resources it holds – we are watching and following intently everything that goes on.
Our country is not for sale!
We will not allow any square inch to be mortgaged for whatever reason – more so, for the benefit of a tiny ruling elite and their cronies – at the expense of the millions of ordinary Zimbabweans, who are the real stakeholders.
As such, in all the talk of ‘mega deals’, we demand maximum transparency, and to know how exactly these will improve the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans.
We will not merely stand by as our finite natural resources are plundered and pillaged – with no discernible profit to the ordinary citizenry – who have been languishing in poverty, in the midst of vast wealth.
We will carefully and closely scrutinize each and every deal, and expose whatever is not for the greater good of, or even detrimental to, the people of this great land between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers.
After four or so centuries of repeated foreign pillaging of our national treasures – by now, we should have leant our lesson – and, will never allow it to happen again.
Indeed, Zimbabwe will never be colony again!
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: email@example.com