THE United States plans to come to the party and challenge China’s strong influence in Zimbabwe by developing a roadmap to help transform the country into a regional growth hub.
An analysis carried out by a former US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray and senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Africa Programme, Michael Walsh urges the American Congress to play an active role the plan.
Washington’s Integrated Country Strategy for Zimbabwe (ICS Zimbabwe) declared that Zimbabwe is of “strategic importance to the United States”, and “a potential growth hub for southern Africa”.
“The ICS Zimbabwe acknowledges that China has ‘expanded its influence’ in Zimbabwe, and this is providing Beijing with near-unfettered access to Zimbabwean natural resources, including base minerals that are critical to the global clean-energy transition,” the report read.
“At the same time, the ICS declares that the Zimbabwean economy is currently functioning ‘for the benefit of a privileged few, including the President, his family, senior military officials and a small group of elite ruling party and private sector actors’.
“In parallel, there is a need to identify the conditions under which the transformation of Zimbabwe into a growth hub for southern Africa would support the administration’s policy of focusing on the transnational aspects of corruption.
“One cannot assume that the transformation of the country into a regional growth hub would be of much benefit to ordinary Zimbabweans. It could very well fuel the spread of corruption and widen the already massive inequities that exist across the country.”
Ray and Walsh said Washington should involve Congress early in the planning process to ensure congressional support and resources to pursue the transformation of Zimbabwe into a growth hub for southern Africa as a US national security interest.
“The State Department would need to involve relevant committees of Congress in the early stages of the planning process to garner the support needed for a robust pursuit of this policy goal.
“Congress would likely be receptive to innovative approaches for partnering with a country known to have large deposits of rare earth metals that are used in the manufacture of electronics, batteries, and magnets. Members do not want these important resources to fall under the control and direction of major-power competitors.”
Relations between Harare and Washington have been frosty due to economic sanctions imposed on the former in 2001.
“Congress would likely be receptive to innovative approaches for partnering with a country known to have large deposits of rare earth metals that are used in the manufacture of electronics, batteries, and magnets. Members do not want these important resources to fall under the control and direction of major-power competitors.
“However, Congress would likely be sensitive to the costs and risks of pursuing such a long-term goal with a government that has long been hostile to US interests,” the report further reads.
Source: The Standard