Special to WorldTribune.com
Zimbabwe’s long-time dictator Robert Mugabe was overthrown by his own defense chief who had close ties with Beijing’s leadership.
Just a few days before he staged the coup, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga paid a hush-hush visit to Beijing and met with China’s Gen. Chang Wanquan, Minister of National Defense.
Robert Mugabe is China’s closest friend in Africa. In 2015, Mugabe was awarded the Confucius Peace Prize by China, a honor designed by Beijing as a counter part to the Nobel Peace Prize. Previous winners include Vladimir Putin and Fidel Castro.
Robert Mugabe has been the Chinese Communist Party’s client in Africa since the early 1980s when most African national liberation leaders sided with the Soviet Union.
Mugabe was one of a handful of state leaders who pledged their loyalty to China which considered itself a rival with the Soviet Union for the leadership of Third World revolutions.
After Zimbabwe gained independence from the British, Mugabe adopted the Chinese version of communism, conducted the Chinese version of land-reform and mounted a terrorist campaign against the white land owners in his country.
But Mugabe is an extremely inept and corrupt political leader who has single-handled ruined his country’s economy and public health where the nation’s life expectancy has dropped by a staggering 26 years on average during his nearly four decades of rule.
China, however, has never forgotten Mugabe’s crucial support during the Sino-Soviet competition in Africa and has provided Zimbabwe lavish economic and financial assistance.
But China’s assistance is not just about payback. Beijing has eyed Zimbabwe as its first major springboard to penetrate and control Africa.
In return, Mugabe has granted China its first overseas military base in the depth of the vast country in the form of a strategic military radar station.
China has also built, free of charge, a full-scale National Defense University for Mugabe near the capital of Harare, whose faculty is comprised mainly of Chinese and Pakistani instructors.
China also wants to control Zimbabwe’s economy and infrastructure through massive investments, in order to incorporate Zimbabwe as an integral part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.