The first I ever heard of Deng Xiaoping was in my O Level history class. We were learning Chinese history, the excesses of Chairman Mao, the suffering of the Chinese people during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Then in stepped Deng Xiaoping, Dengism and the beginning of a new era. To hear my history teacher describe it, Deng was the Messiah, and the Chinese Communist Party the flock gone astray.
According to Wikipedia, the Peoples Republic of China is one of the last five communist states in the world. China’s government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as authoritarian, with heavy restrictions remaining in many areas, most notably on the internet, the press, freedom of assembly, reproductive rights and freedom of religion.
Deng Xiaoping served as de facto leader of China for almost twenty years. He put it firmly on the path to becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world. All without the trouble of having regular elections, ‘people driven’ constitutions or misfortune of an Inclusive government. This, despite China effectively being a one party state. In a 2008 Pew research Centre survey 86% of Chinese people expressed satisfaction with the way things were going in their country and with their nation’s economy.
When ZANU PF looks East I wonder what it is looking at. Is it examining the Chinese Communist Party’s successes and failures and how these may be instructional for them too? The same words that describe the Chinese Communist Party may be applied to them. It is not far-fetched that ZANU’s policies could successfully be implemented. Then an all ZANU PF government could also have an 86% approval rating from it’s oppressed citizens. Oppression is subjective. If most people are happy most of the time, are they really oppressed?
Democracy was never a prerequisite for a successful government or economic growth. It’s a nice idea, but I would wager that the majority of people, including myself, would give up a measure of freedom in return for prosperity. China’s one billion plus population is nothing to laugh at.
When ZANU PF looks East it sees the fat wallets of Chinese investors and turns a blind eye to the deals that short change the people. While the president lectures about sovereignty, his ministers systematically turn Zimbabwe once again into a client state for a different ideology.