There are plans to introduce Chinese language classes in all of Zimbabwe’s universities later this year. Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge says this is part of an offensive by President Robert Mugabe to promote his "look east" policy. But the students are lashing out at the idea, saying it reflects what they call the "madness of the Mugabe regime scaling new heights." Critics dismiss Mr. Mugabe's "look east" policy as an empty political slogan that won't rescue Zimbabwe's collapsed economy.
Education professor Fred Zindi of the University of Zimbabwe told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje he maintains a neutral stand on the political merits or de-merits of the initiative. But he says, “Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is good and useful at some point.” Professor Zindi says China is the fourth largest economic power in the world. For that reason alone, he says, it’s worth doing business with a business giant – “especially for a country like Zimbabwe.”
The Zimbabwean educator says his country is not the only one doing business with China. He points to recent visits to China by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush. Professor Zindi says as interaction with the Chinese continues, learning the language will become a useful tool. He says, “If the Chinese are going to be an economic superpower, it’s easier to do business with them if you can speak their language.”