Lovemore Chikova in BEIJING, China—
China will deliver on all mega deals signed between President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping and the Asian economic giant will not disappoint Zimbabwe, China’s director of African Affairs Department Mr Lin Songtian, said last Friday. This poured cold water on speculation that the deals now hung in the balance after Government ordered all diamond mining firms, including those owned by the Chinese, to leave Chiadzwa for refusing to join the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.
The Chinese Government said the deals were on course, urging Zimbabwe to play its part more prominently to expedite their implementation. In an interview, Mr Lin, who is also the secretary-general of the Chinese Follow-up Committee on the Forum on China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), said China would deliver on all promises made.
“It’s okay, we are taking very seriously whatever the commitment made by my President to his Excellency the President (Mugabe),” he said. “We will deliver each of them, no problem. But what can we do there, it’s step-by-step and when the condition there is ready, the Zimbabwean side gets ready there, we are ready.”
Mr Lin said people needed to understand that there was good coordination and cooperation between China and Zimbabwe. “Step-by-step, the things are going on so well,” he said. “Governments from the two sides, we are working fast to make sure everything is there.
“We have a lot of projects there, some of them are already on site. We are speeding up the process for each of the projects. So, there is no problem. Thank you for your concern about the delivery, the implementation, now is more important.” Mr Lin said there was need to speed up the necessary procedures for the deals to start making an impact.
“For China’s side no problem, we are ready, but of course from your side, my side, each of us will need to follow the procedure to complete the deals,” he said. Mr Lin gave the example of the new Parliament Building expected to be built in Mt Hampden, where Government has not yet cleared the ground in readiness for the ground breaking ceremony.
He said the Zimbabwean side should also put the road leading to the new Parliament Building in place before the Chinese moved in to start construction work. “My dear, we need the time because, for example, we are about to build the Parliament Building, but for the building you have to offer the land, clear the land and also build the road,” said Mr Lin.
“The Zimbabwean side must get ready for us to go there and break the ground. The road to reach the Parliament is not yet there. So, you see, in co-operation we need two sides to move in the same direction, you understand.
“Now your side has to select which is the true reliable contractor for the road. That is the procedure.” Mr Lin said the power generation project at Hwange Thermal Power Station was taking off, with the Chinese partner Sinohydro already on the ground. For private firms from China, Mr Lin said, it was up to Zimbabwe to offer them favourable and attractive conditions.
“We have so many Chinese companies there (Zimbabwe) and you are the hosts, if you like to see more investors there, you have to create a favourable conditions and invite them, to attract them to come in,” he said.
“The investment project is by the private sector and the investment project will create more jobs for the people and of course they pay tax to the Government.
“But you have to attract them and keep them there. I hope your Government, you understand, you know how to attract – attract is the word, attract. We cannot force them to go, but you have to attract them and hold them there.
“So, business is business, it depends on you. For example in China, whoever wants to come to China, we open the door, welcome them and provide them with services, good services, good environment, favourable environment to attract them and hold them here. That is the way we are doing it.”
Zimbabwe and China sealed landmark deals worth more than $4 billion when President paid a State visit to the Asian country in 2014. President Xi paid a reciprocal State visit to Zimbabwe last year where he witnessed the signing of 12 more deals together with President Mugabe.
The deals will convert provisions of the Government’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, into programmes of action. The two nations signed 12 investment agreements covering different sectors of the economy.
The deals include financing for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, construction of the new Parliament building and a pharmaceutical warehouse, expansion of a national fibre optic broadband project and provision of wildlife monitoring equipment among others.
Other deals are in infrastructure development in the areas of railways and roads. China is now the largest source of investment in Zimbabwe and in 2013, the Asian giant invested $602 million.
The Asian economic giant has become one of the major trade partners of Zimbabwe and from 2010 to 2014, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was 22 percent.