Sunday, August 24, 2014

Zimbabwe Seeks China Infrastructure Support
China-Zimbabwe cooperation continues.
by Sunday Mail Reporter | Sunday, Aug 24, 2014
Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

President Mugabe left Harare for China yesterday on a week-long State visit that could spur infrastructural investment, which is identified in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation as a key enabler of economic development. Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba — who is part of the delegation — said the visit was not meant to look for cash but to deepen Sino-Zimbabwe co-operation.

“We are largely looking at investment of an infrastructural nature and the focus is on energy, that is coal and thermal, hard communication by way of road networks, rail, locomotives,” he said.

“We are also looking at areas to do with agriculture to take forward our programme of mechanisation. We are looking at strengthening the telecommunications sector, possibly broadcasting.”

Mr Charamba dismissed reports by some sections of the private media who have been claiming that the visit was meant to ask for a US$4 billion bailout.

“Our thrust is predominantly infrastructure and in this case we are working with the cluster of infrastructure. Variku expecter kuti tichauya nema billion ari munhava (those expecting us to bring billions) don’t know the strategic direction of Zimbabwe. We are looking at ourselves as the investors, we are looking at inward investment,” said Mr Charamba.

Mr Charamba said some ministers under the Zimbabwe-China Joint Permanent Commission were already in China. These include Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs), Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), Obert Mpofu (Transport and Infrastructural Development) and Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce).

Ministers Joseph Made (Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism and Hospitality Industry) left for China yesterday.

China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Lin Lin, said President Mugabe’s visit was expected to open a new chapter in bilateral relations between the two countries.

“In recent years, China and Zimbabwe have enjoyed frequent high-level political exchanges, sound economic and trade relations, effective financial and humanitarian aid co-operation as well as fruitful people-to-people exchanges,” said Ambassador Lin.

He said China was one of Zimbabwe’s largest economic partners with trade between Harare and Beijing rapidly expanding in recent years.

“China Exim Bank has provided over US$1 billion worth of preferential, concessionary and commercial loans to Zimbabwe in recent years for projects including the National Defence College, Harare water project, medical equipment for hospitals, Victoria Falls Airport expansion and Kariba South hydro power station expansion, among others.

“In the past three years, the total amount of China’s official assistance to Zimbabwe, namely grant and interest-free loans, amounts to over US$100 million,” said Ambassador Lin.

Sino-Zimbabwe co-operation dates back to the Second Chimurenga when China provided material, technical and moral support to nationalist fighters.

Formal diplomatic ties came at Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 and since then the two have consistently described each other as “all-weather friends”.

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