corruptionwatch:WITH TAWANDA MAJONI
This last week, China woke the world up to a confusing surprise. It took out a big hammer to swat a fly.
But, the hammer seemed to have fallen inches away from the target, considering the public throw-back that came after that.
Today, this column is coming with a different gait. It will present, verbatim, what the people said when China threw the hammer.
The people are not amused.
Just to jog your mind. On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy caused the publication of a three-page statement in the local media.
More than 1 000 words just to respond to a small paragraph claim made here last week that China had influenced the re-admission of Anjin Investments Ltd into diamond mining in Marange.
China dismissed the claim, insisting, instead, that the China-Zimbabwe relations were based on selfless and mutual respect.
That’s not what you are going to hear from Polite Kambamura, the Mines deputy minister who early last year told Bloomberg that Zimbabwe had to re-admit Anjin after a “public relations” agreement with Beijing.
The embassy’s statement was full of anger and froth. It aimed straight at the author of this column and accused him of being a money-mongering political activist, instead of a journalist or columnist.
And the world heard what the embassy said, loud and clear.
Below are some of the reactions that people and organisations made.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (as quoted in NewZimbabwe.com)
“The tone and attitude of the response (by the embassy) are extremely disturbing and uncharacteristic of a foreign embassy.
“The embassy launched a personal and defamatory attack on the author of the article.
“More disturbingly, it accused Majoni of harbouring a “hidden political agenda” and seeking “an easy way to make money”.
“This insinuates that Majoni is a corrupt political activist “writing for bread”, rather than a bona fide journalist who has been running a free weekly column on corruption for the last four years.
“The Zimbabwean constitution provides that the country’s citizens must be treated with dignity, which must always be protected. Majoni, as a Zimbabwean citizen, must also enjoy the freedom of conscience as provided under section 60 of the constitution.
“This freedom entails that he has the right to freedom of thought, opinion or belief”.
“In addition, Zimbabwean citizens, journalists included, have the freedom to seek, receive and communicate their ideas and information, just as the media also has the right to operate freely.
“This is also enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the African Union and Sadc principles,” added the union.
“The statement by the embassy has potential of instilling fear in him — considering prevailing persecutions on journalists, civil society and human rights defenders in many countries — and can inflame his persecution”
The China Africa Project on its website https://chinaafricaproject.com/2020/08/26/chinese-embassy-in-zimbabwe-gets-into-media-spat-over-the-return-of-a-controversial-diamond-mine/
“Majoni’s comments clearly irked the embassy because they came at him with the type of rhetoric usually reserved for the likes of Mike Pompeo and Beijing’s other “tier 1 critics.”
“They described his column as filled with “unfounded accusations, conjectures, and sheer lies, proving nothing but an appalling lack of common sense and self-confidence.”
“What’s interesting here is what issues provoke the Chinese to respond so quickly and forcefully?
“It’s odd because when there are often legitimate issues that necessitate a Chinese embassy statement or comment, they’re usually reticent.
“But from time to time, someone at the embassies gets irked and we see these full-throated denunciations of issues that would largely go unnoticed had they not said anything.
“There was a similar situation in Liberia earlier this month when the Chinese embassy in Monrovia published a passionate 1 600 word rebuttal to a rather standard US warning about the dangers using Chinese technology.”
Wilbert Mukori, a Zimbabwean analyst based in the UK https://www.zimeye.net/2020/08/26/nonsense-china-is-but-zimbabwes-new-colonial-master/
“There is no such thing as a free lunch, certainly not from the Chinese and Russians. It is, therefore, surprising that the Chinese embassy in Harare had the chic to claim otherwise!
“It is no exaggeration to say corruption is the root cause of all Zimbabwe’s political, economic and social problems.
“And nothing epitomises the sheer extent and depth of the rampant corruption than the wholesale looting of the country’s Marange and Chiadzwa diamonds.
“The wealth from the sale of diamonds, valued at US$2 million plus a month, should have been used in the country’s development, is instead going into the pockets of the few ruling elite.
“The Chinese company, Anjin, has been at the very heart of the looting of diamonds in Zimbabwe.
“It is laughable that the Chinese embassy should now try to disown Anjin!
“China’s foreign policy towards Zimbabwe is premised of the later paying back China for the military and other assistance Mugabe received before independence and thereafter. Anjin is one of the many Chinese companies who have benefited from this policy.
“Nonsense, China is but Zimbabwe’s new colonial master and corrupt one-side business deals and meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs …are core pillars of China’s foreign policy towards Zimbabwe!”
Munhu (commenting on NewZimbabwe.com)
“They should stop forcing themselves on us. We really do not want them nor their acts of charity.”
Mujokochera WeMujokochera (commenting on NewZimbabwe.com)
“The Chinese must stop attacking our journalists and reporters, Zimbabwe isn’t a Chinese province.
“Meanwhile, they are stripping our country of its natural resources, from minerals to wildlife.
“They are dumping poisonous effluent, including mercury and cyanide from their mining activities into our rivers and streams at will.
“They have never given us even a cent because they ALWAYS get more from us than they give us.
“Their version of investment does not benefit Zimbabwe in any way whatsoever.
“They must pack and go, they are of zero benefit to us as a country.
“They also need to be reminded that Tawanda Majoni is a Zimbabwean operating in Zimbabwe.
“He isn’t Chinese and he doesn’t live in China.”
So, there you have it. Public relations doesn’t get messier than this!
l Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on email@example.com