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Zimbabwe civil society calls for post-Mugabe ‘national dialogue’

Zimbabwes Platform for Concerned Citizens, a civil society group, called on Tuesday for a far-reaching national dialogue involving all political parties to help plot a new course for the country after the resignation of Robert Mugabe, Reuters reports.

“A National Transitional Authority must be the final outcome of a national dialogue,” the PCC said in a statement. “We have informed both the government and the military of our view.”

But there is nothing yet to suggest that Zimbabwe is about to undergo a substantive shift toward a more democratic and open society based on the full implementation of its 2013 constitution, according to Paul GrahamSouthern Africa Project Director for Freedom House:

And there is likewise nothing to suggest that the presidential and parliamentary elections which must happen in 2018 will be conducted under free and fair conditions. Indeed, one possible outcome of the coup could be a rush to an election, which would merely compound unresolved problems related to the voter rolls, the perceived bias of the electoral commission, the large number of disenfranchised citizens in the diaspora, and the incumbency privileges and history of political violence within constituencies.

The Zimbabwe crisis has turned a spotlight on China’s role in Africa, the FT adds:

Since the 1950s, Beijing has publicly adhered to “five principles of peaceful coexistence”, including non-intervention in foreign countries. Now, as Beijing’s global role grows, it is finding it cannot avoid entanglements. China is Zimbabwe’s largest investor and Africa’s biggest trading partner and has close links to many in the Zimbabwean political elite.

“The major difference is that today China has a lot more at stake when political or economic instability looms in a developing country,” said Andrew Scobell of the Rand Corporation. “China finds it much more difficult to practice what Beijing has been preaching across the years.”

The Beijing Consensus is an idea that has been hanging around for a while, as a supposed alternative to the Washington Consensus, Anne Applebaum writes for the Washington Post:

The Beijing consensus is supposed to offer an alternative to the West: state-dominated economics, plus repressive politics. Some of those who espouse it, or some version of it, insist that not only do developing countries need top-down, carefully planned economies, but also they need rulers who stay in power for many years, the better to plan economic development. The trouble, of course, is that when people admire the achievements of autocracies, they are usually thinking of the achievements of tiny Singapore, or perhaps Shanghai.

They aren’t thinking about the more impoverished regions of rural China, and they certainly aren’t thinking about Zimbabwe — a country that has nevertheless applied its version of the Chinese model consistently for four decades, adds Applebaum, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy.

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