You know, for a little while it looked like those hippies’ dreams of one global village had come true. Some of us grew up in the ‘we are the world’ era and really believed Lucky Dube when he said ‘we gotta stand together as one.’
It was a pipe dream. Families can’t even stand together as one, what more nations, let alone the whole world.
We are now staring a possible World War 3 in the face and the cold wars of this millennium are heating up. That’s more like the family drama we are used to.
Here in Zimbabwe, we are feeling the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. That’s what interdependence brings to the table, shocks in one part of the world causing tsunamis elsewhere. Let’s hope the US doesn’t sneeze too hard too because that would just send everything to the dogs.
The US and China have their own ‘will-they-won’t-they’ thing going on. It’s been years of this passive-aggressive behaviour and tensions are rising with every trade tariff raised.
What China has learnt from all this is that they just have to be independent and self-sufficient.
China had bought into the ‘global village’ dream as well and discovered in the end that there are some world prefects that exert too much influence on global village proceedings. Cross those prefects and you suffer the consequences (the demonisation of Huawei being a good example.)
The latest on China’s part concerns freeing themselves from the shackles of the global financial system. How is China trying to do this?
The big four
China is telling its companies to stop using the Big 4 accounting/auditing firms – PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY. All four are Western companies, three of them headquartered in London and KPMG in Amsterdam.
Here I have to tell you that as a kid someone told me that KPMG was a Zimbabwean company, founded by Kuredza, Panganai, Mashakada and Guveya. I believed that for years. Life before mobile internet was accessible was tough, so don’t judge me. Anyways…
China has grand ambitions to be the world superpower. However, they realise it will be hard to achieve that when Western companies still exert great influence on their economy. So, to limit Western influence on their economy, China is moving away from the big four.
The government is citing data security concerns and so the Ministry of Finance has been advising state-owned enterprises to let contracts with the big four expire. This is rich coming from China but warranted.
But why China, why were you using these private auditing firms to audit your state-owned enterprises’ accounts? Not even your little brother Zimbabwe does that.
The big four have their tentacles in every economy on the planet. Almost every big company in almost every country gets their books looked at by one of the big four. Even here in Zimbabwe, just go through the accounts of whatever stock exchange-listed company you want and you will find that their auditors are numbered among the four.
China is playing this game right. They also understand that it’s not enough to rid yourself of foreign influence, you also have to influence others. This is where the likes of Zimbabwe come in.
My beloved Zimbabwe
Where China is moving away from Western influence on their financial systems, here in Zimbabwe we will be sticking with the West on this one. Look East policy be damned. To be fair to us though, we were not stupid enough to let the likes of KPMG audit our state firms. But maybe we should have.
Anyway, the West retains its influence on our systems but the East found a way in as well. China has been on a bender, funding infrastructure project after government building across Africa and Asia.
In Zimbabwe, the Chinese have constructed so much stuff and been given access to that sensitive infrastructure, they could just crush us without breaking a sweat.
That means we have both the West and the East pulling strings on this mineral-rich little country of ours. At the moment the Chinese look to be leading in the influence charts but either way, we are a pawn on this chessboard.
Should we ask Kuredza, Panganai, Mashakada and Guveya to found an auditing firm like China is doing? Should we be chasing China away like the West is doing? I don’t know.
All I know is that there were allegations that China was bugging the buildings they were donating to governments, including bugging the Africa Union headquarters they so graciously built. Now, we have the Chinese with unfettered access to our new parliament building. I just don’t see how it’s not bugged.
Before you say Zimbabwe is not that important for them to bother, ask yourself why they even bothered building the damn thing in the first place. When I think about the lithium resources we are sitting on, I don’t see how China would not want to know what our politicians say in the privacy of their offices.
Can anything be done about this?
It’s best not to ponder on these things, I think. It is what it is and let’s accept our pawn status and live our lives as best we can.
What do you think about all this? Is this separatist thinking good for the global village? Could a kingless global village ever exist? Should Zimbabwe be this vulnerable to foreign influence? Of course not.
Can we do anything about it though? Should we sweep the new parliament building after the Chinese are done constructing it? Does it even matter if they hear the nonsense that spews out of the mouths of most of our politicians? I don’t know.