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CHINA has dropped a bombshell on top of President Robert Mugabe's roof by openly telling him to reliquish power, as a precondition for their funding of Zimbabwe's economic recovery.

The News Leader has obtained details and exclusively reveals that the demand and push by China, has been behind several processes in the recent months.

We have established and confirmed that China's position first emerged at the beginning of the year, when Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa visited Beijing and embarked on an intensive mission of negotiating for an urgent financial rescue package.

China revealed to Chinamasa that they would be interested in bailing out Zimbabwe, but only if Mugabe stepped down. To Chinamasa's shock, the Chinese revealed that they, like the rest of the world, have found doing business in Zimbabwe to be unviable, and believe that Mugabe has become an albatross on the country.

Information we have obtained shows that the Chinese very tactifully presented their position to Chinamasa, through showing him the ways they could bail out Zimbabwe and clearly stating they had the money to provide an urgent rescue package. Our efforts to draw Chinamasa into granting an interview over the matter failed.

He flatly declined, after showing surprise at how we had obtained the information.

"How did you get that information? No no, l am not granting interviews," he said.

Three sources, all of them top government officials, revealed to us the finer details of Chinamasa's engagements with the Chinese.

"It is Chinamasa who brought the official position to the president (Mugabe) after his engagement with the Chinese. He (Chinamasa) was hesitant and unsure initially, on how to proceed or reveal the Chinese position to the president and he consulted a few of his close colleagues.'
According to another source, when Mugabe heard from Chinamasa what the Chinese were asking for, he became very livid.
'Mugabe at first couldn't believe it or accept even talking about it," one of the sources said.

However, with the national economic situation further worsening and Chinamasa's other missions yielding nothing, the Chinese capitalised and used various strategies to lure Mugabe.

Among the strategies, the Chinese openly started snubbing Zimbabwe, both diplomatically and in trade relations – deliberately sending a message to Mugabe.
The Chinese Vice President Li Luanchao in June visited other countries in the region but snubbed Zimbabwe.

Around that time, the Chinese also sent a message to the Zanu PF regime by pulling out or dithering on various trade deals that had been on the table.
Eventually, Mugabe got the message, and through emissaries, the Chinese government convinced him to undertake a trip to the Asian country, last week – where he got it from the hosts.

"They (Chinese) engaged Mugabe nicely and politely, and used a carrot and stick strategy. The Chinese impressed Mugabe through the cocktail of projects and means of funding they can bring to Zimbabwe, but told him they believe he has to go," a top source said.

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba did not answer his mobile phone when we tried to obtain comment.

To further prove the reports, our investigations yesterday led to confirmation by two top Zanu PF officials, apparently aware of China's call for Mugabe to go – which has become linked to the hot succession chaos rocking Zanu PF.

"Yes, some of us knew of that position by the Chinese even before Mugabe had been briefed about it," one top official said.

We have established that top leaders in Zanu PF have been watching the Chinese plot to push Mugabe into stepping down, including Vice President Joice Mujuru and her faction.

On his part, Mugabe had become also seized by the matter even before his trip to China.

A fortnight ago, Mugabe told the Zanu PF Women's League congress that all top party leaders, including himself, had to step down at the congress – a remark our sources said was motivated by the Chinese's position.

Mugabe returned from China on Sunday, with several documents of Memorandum of Understanding, but, notably without any breakthrough on the urgent financial rescue package he primarily sought.

The Zanu PF regime has been holding high hopes for a US$4 billion package it was negotiating with China.

The Chinese, our top sources say, deployed their technocrats to carry out thorough assessments in Zimbabwe early this year, which concluded that the political and governance crisis in being presided over by Mugabe, hampers economic revival and growth.

The Chinese further identified Mugabe as being the major problem, for having failed to manage his succession matrix and also botched the reformation agenda by the previous coalition government – which the Chinese found to be 'progressive'.

Our informed sources say China has been advising the Zanu PF regime to engage the opposition and forge a coalition again. Mugabe returned on Sunday to find the cracks in his party deepening, as a serious power battle intensifies ahead of the Zanu PF December congress.

Mugabe has plunged himself into controversy by openly engaging in factional fights and thrusting his wife Grace into the chaos, thereby causing a lot of friction and uncertainty.

The Zanu PF leader is openly battling against the faction led by his deputy Joice Mujuru, which is poised to take over key positions at the congress, ahead of the rival Mnangagwa camp.

The News Leader revealed last month that Mujuru had told Mugabe that she believes he has to step down.

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