While Zimbabwe was engulfed in the flames of violent protest, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ousted strongman Robert Mugabe in the November 2017 coup d’etat, was in Russia to sign numerous agreements with President Vladmir Putin. Ties between Zimbabwe and the East European superpower go back all the way to the liberation war waged by Zipra and Zanla rebels against the racist settler government. The liberation war has often been poetically summarised as one between capitalism and socialism. The Rhodesian army’s weapon of choice was Belgian manufactured FN rifle while the “Comrades” used the Russian made Kalashnikov.
Russian influence in both ideology and weapons also existed in neighbouring country Mozambique whose national flag bears the AK rifle. Putin’s government also has ties with Eritrea and the Central African Republic, CAR.
Russia – the new colonial master?
With most economic
partners abandoning Zimbabwe due to gross human rights violations, the resource-rich
Southern African state has been on a campaign to find financial assistance from
new allies. President Mnangagwa’s government signed numerous deals with Russia,
most notably in areas of military and mining cooperation. Although finer
details are not available, a treaty on extradition and anti terror operations
implies that Russian operatives will have freedom to the sovereign land of
Zimbabwe, should they need it. This recent development leaves citizens
wondering about the implications.
In the period leading up to Zimbabwe’s July 2017 vote, Britain had been overtly courting Zimbabwe, after decades of icy relations during the Mugabe era. Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe have now clearly soured in the wake of Mnangagwa’s military clampdown on protestors, most notably on 1 August 2018 when armed soldiers used deadly force to stop protests. This January, Mnangagwa’s security forces again killed, tortured and allegedly raped civilians following civilian protests against a sharp rise in fuel prices.
For the last two decades of his iron-fisted rule, Robert Mugabe’s mantra was “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.”
Has Mugabe’s successor reneged on the ruling party’s collective vow? Is Russia the new Great Britain?
Watch the video below and reach your own conclusion.
Signing away Zimbabwe’s future?