Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
AN inter-ministerial committee chaired by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi met in Harare yesterday to finalise several agreements to be presented to Chinese President Xi Jinping who is expected in Harare next Tuesday.The meeting also sought to put financial value to the agreements, which are being discussed within the context of the mega deals signed between Zimbabwe and China during President Mugabe’s state visit to the Asian economic giant in August last year.
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Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha confirmed the meeting, saying the agreements covered Zimbabwe’s priority areas such as energy, agriculture, water reticulation and infrastructure development among others.
Although the value of the agreements could not be verified last night, it is understood that it runs into billions of dollars given the nature of the projects. The expectation is that President Xi will set the tone for the operationalisation of all agreed projects.
The implementation of the projects is likely to start during the first quarter of next year, while others are already at various stages of execution. Said Ambassador Bimha: “Minister Mumbengegwi today is chairing an inter-ministerial meeting with ministers involved in the projects that we want to undertake with the assistance of our Chinese counterparts.
“There are a number of agreements that we are looking at including agriculture, energy and water reticulation. “The Chinese will also bring their agreements that we will discuss together with ours.” According to Ambassador Bimha, a lot of ground work was done to present a befitting welcome to the leader of world’s second biggest and fastest growing economy.
He added that Government was attaching great importance to President Xi’s visit, which is the second by a Chinese leader in the history of Zimbabwe. The first visit was in 1996 by President Jiang Zemin.
“It is such an important visit and we have made adequate preparations to receive President Xi,” said Ambassador Bimha. “China is an economic power house and we are very well prepared.” President Mugabe had already indicated that Zimbabwe was looking forward to President Xi’s visit with great interest.
He told reporters in Turkey recently where he was attending the G20 Summit in his capacity as the African Union chairman that they would discuss several issues relating to economic development and areas that Zimbabwe would want assistance from China.
“We actually await the visit with very great interest and when he visits us, we shall be discussing some of the projects and programmes we would want China to assist us in undertaking,” President Mugabe said. He added: “It’s more than the visit of the Chinese head of state that is very important to us. We will discuss programmes of cooperation.”
President Xi will be in Zimbabwe on a two day State visit after which he would proceed to attend the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in South Africa. The Chinese have adopted a progressive foreign policy where they extend financial assistance and expertise to African countries without strings attached.
The cordial relations between Harare and Beijing have unsettled many Western countries that isolated Zimbabwe when it embarked on pro-people, black economic empowerment policies such as the land reform programme.