Lloyd Gumbo in BEIJING, China—
President Mugabe is today expected to meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, as Harare and Beijing seek to strengthen co-operation in many economic sectors.Speaking to the media after a closed-door meeting following President Mugabe’s arrival here yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the two leaders would deliberate on a number of issues.
He, however, declined to disclose the full agenda of today’s meeting.
“The main item on the agenda tomorrow is the meeting between His Excellency President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart, His Excellency Xi Jinping,” he said.
“Following on the meeting between the two leaders will be a State banquet to be hosted by President Xi honour of his visitor.”
Minister Mumbengegwi said ministers under the Zimbabwe – China Joint Permanent Commission met from August 21-22, 2014, where they reviewed progress on co-operation between Zimbabwe and China.
He said they discussed co-operation in a number of areas among them infrastructure in energy, transport, information communication technology, agriculture as well as the social sector.
“We agreed that both sides must step up co-operation but the details of the commission will be spelt out in due course,” said Minister Mumbengegwi.
President Mugabe is in China for a week-long State visit that is expected to unlock investment in infrastructure.
The President is accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, their son Bellarmine, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi; Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba and other senior Government officials.
The delegation was received at the Beijing International Capital Airport by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to China Cde Frederick Shava, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin and other senior Zimbabwean and Chinese government officials.
Also at the airport to receive the President and his delegation were ministers who had been part of the advance team among them Cdes Mumbengegwi, Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), Obert Mpofu (Transport and Infrastructural Development) as well as Walter Chidhakwa (Mines and Mining Development).
The ministers are part of the Zimbabwe-China Joint Permanent Commission.
President Mugabe inspected a guard of honour mounted for him by the Chinese Army on his arrival at the airport before going into a closed-door meeting with Zimbabwean and Chinese officials.
Mr Charamba on Sunday said the thrust of the delegation’s visit was to deepen cooperation between Harare and Beijing contrary to claims by some sections of the private media that the delegation was in China to look for money.
“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,” Mr Charamba 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.”