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Paramilitary: Asian Mercenaries in Zimbabwe
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April 24, 2008: Concurrent with China's latest shipments of arms and munitions to Zimbabwe (see), two dozen uniformed and armed Chinese soldiers were seen patrolling the streets of the eastern border town of Mutare, with Zimbabwean troops, during a strike by Mugabe's political opposition. The Chinese Embassy denied that there were any Chinese troops in the area, but suggested that local Chinese-owned companies hired contractors to protect their interests. Over the last few years, thousands of Chinese have moved to Zimbabwe, where they have become active in retailing, manufacturing, mining and farming. They have a lot to protect and apparently have formed a militia.

 

Mugabe is running scared of open revolt, with the results of the March 29 joint parliamentary and presidential elections still unclear. The state-run Herald newspaper even suggested the best solution was to form a government of national unity, but Mugabe's political opposition went ahead with a planned nationwide strike to protest the increasing violence and force the release of the election results. Local church leaders issued warnings of impending ``genocide'' unless  international intervention arrests the deteriorating political and security situation.

 

Beijing has a substantial investment in Zimbabe, including a $1.3 billion contract to open coal mines and three thermal power stations in the Zambezi valley (as well as unpaid debts dating back to the Congo Civil War that started in 1998).

 

This is not the first time Mugabe has looked east for security assistance. In 1981, he imported 106 North Korean police instructors, who trained a brigade of troops on how to most effectively terrorize Matabeleland. There, the Ndebele minority (18 percent of the population) were hostile to Mugabe, who was a Shona. The Shona and  Ndebele  had not gotten along, even as they fought for Zimbabwean independence. So Mugabe sent his North Korean trained 5th Brigade to Matabeleland, where thousands of Ndebele died, and everyone else was terrified into submission. The North Koreans took their money and went home.

 

If China fails to maintain influence over the election results, their political and economic foothold is in danger of evaporating. - Adam Geibel

 

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trenchsol       4/24/2008 9:33:35 AM
Perhaps China could play the same role as United States played in Philippines, when they brokered a deal between dictator Marcos and opposition and prevented bloodshed. It was 1983 and circumstances were similar. Marcos finally left the country unharmed and democratic government took over.

China could protect their interests that way.

DG


 
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njcommuter       4/25/2008 2:08:22 AM
Is it in China's interests to help Mugabe off the stage and allow a government less beholden to them to take over?  I expect that if they give Mugabe asylum, they will expect to stage-manage the government that follows.

To what degree are those thousands of Chinese who have moved to Zimbabwe agents of the Chinese government?  Might they become a wild card if things get messy?

And do we believe China when they say they have no military forces there?  Could they be "private" mercenaries "retired" from the People's Revolutionary Army?

 
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trenchsol       4/25/2008 8:37:35 AM
I don't think that Mugabe regime is going to survive these elections, with or without Chinese help. It is over. Chinese could make a deal with opposition to leave their interests intact. I don't think that it is wise to support Mugabe until the end.

I believe that military coup could remove Mugabe, if he remains stubborn. In such situations military often reacts trying to protect its own integrity. Rank and file are common people,, and there are many of them in the every army.

DG


 
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kensohaski       4/25/2008 9:22:08 AM
A military coup may restore some degree of order in that shithole...
 
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apoorexcuse       4/25/2008 10:14:50 AM
Zimbabwe is certainly not a s*********le, quite a lovely place when the s*********le goverment isn't screwing it up!  It was not called the breadbasket of sub-Saharan Africa for nothing.  As to a coup, not likely, yet.  The military has neither the solidarity nor the manpower to accomplish it now.  Remember that a large group of Mugabe's (and Zanu's) supporters are armed nearly as well as the general military.  Zimbabwe's military is quite decrepit, not much more effective than a very strong police force.  I believe that should splinter elements of the military attempt a coup there would be to many other factions opposed to them in the interests of maintaining the status quo.  Also, the forces in question are located nearer to Harare, which is in general the center of the Zanu supporters, and further from the broad rural (and even urban in Bulawayo) opposition which a coup would almost certainly need. 

My opinion is that Mugabe is helped more by the fractioning of his opposition than he is hurt by the various factions keeping him and his cronies in power. 

 
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Yimmy       4/25/2008 1:51:14 PM

Zimbabwe is certainly not a s*********le, quite a lovely place when the s*********le goverment isn't screwing it up!  It was not called the breadbasket of sub-Saharan Africa for nothing. 

I believe the 'bread basket of Sub-Saharan Africa', was Rhodesia.

Kick out a successful government and replace it with a terrorist organisation - and look what happens.
 
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apoorexcuse    Yimmy   4/26/2008 6:26:19 AM
Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.  Northern Rhodesia became Zambia, two very different and divergent histories.  Zimbabwe was considered the Bread Basket until the land distributions took place.  But a country built on the backs of 95% of the population has the deck stacked against it unless tempering forces (intelligent leadership) can prevail.  This was the case with Zambia, which went through its "bloodless" revolution.  Not quite bloodless, but far less bloody than the majority of the former African colonies.
 
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trenchsol       4/26/2008 9:06:31 AM
I don't understand why Mugabe allowed the elections in the first place. He obviously did not provide appropriate means to rigg the elections. Somehow, he was caught unprepared. Is he so much out of his mind that he believed he could win ?

Chinese maybe think that Tiananmen could happen again in Zimbabwe. Could the afford to be involved just before the Olympic Games ?

DG

 
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Yimmy       4/26/2008 12:05:08 PM

Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.

I know - that's my point.
 
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apoorexcuse       4/27/2008 6:09:36 PM
Ahh, then we are in agreement.


Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.


I know - that's my point.


 
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