Tendai Mugabe and Martin Kadzere—
THE implementation of Zim-Asset received a major boost and fresh impetus yesterday following the signing of 12 landmark agreements between Zimbabwe and China to fund vital projects in key economic sectors. Zim-Asset is the Government’s five-year economic blueprint targeting the creation of 2,2 million jobs, among other deliverables, by 2018. Two of the deals are private sector-driven.
The signing of the new agreements, which cover key sectors such as infrastructure, telecommunications and energy was witnessed by Heads of State and Government of the two countries, President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
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President Xi is on a two-day State visit to Zimbabwe leading a delegation of 200 people, including Cabinet ministers, bankers and representatives from the Communist Party of China. This followed President Mugabe’s successful 13th State visit to China in August last year, where another set of nine mega deals was signed with the world’s second largest economy after the US.
Some of the deals are at various stages of implementation. Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa penned four agreements on behalf of Zimbabwe with the first one being an economic and technical cooperation agreement with China. Chinese Minister of Commerce Mr Gao Hucheng signed on behalf of his country.
The two also signed an agreement on avoidance of double taxation. Minister Chinamasa signed two loan agreements for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station and TelOne’s fibre optic project with the chairperson of the China Eximbank, Ms Hu Xiaolian.
On Hwange Power Station expansion, the Zimbabwe Power Company represented by its managing director Engineer Noah Gwariro and Sinohydro represented by chairman of its parent company, Power China, Mr Yan Zhiyong, signed a cooperation agreement on Hwange 7 and 8 project.
The expansion project at Hwange will see Sinohydro adding two units with a capacity of 600 MW. Mr Gao signed four more deals on aviation cooperation with Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joram Gumbo and construction of a national pharmaceutical warehouse with Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa.
He also signed a handover and acceptance of certificate on the donation of equipment for wildlife protection in Zimbabwe with Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri and an agreement on the exchange of notes for the construction of a new Parliament building with Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
Policy Coordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President’s Office Minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, signed an agreement with the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission chairperson, Mr Xu Shaoshi, on enhancement of investment.
Two more private sector agreements were also signed between International Business of China and China Africa Sunlight Energy on the development of coal and methane gas mines as well the establishment of 600 MW thermal power station in Gwayi. The other agreement was between AVM Africa Limited and Beijing Automobile Assembly.
Earlier on, President Mugabe had described China as Zimbabwe’s best friend at international level. He said the relationship between the two countries was not premised on the fact that China was a rich country, but that the Chinese were people of action. President Mugabe chronicled the important role that China played during the Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle by providing military and technical support.
“We had a tough struggle against the British settlers and the Chinese assisted us with guns,” he said. “Every year I went to China to say we need more guns and more guns were given until we attained our independence on 18 April 1980. “So as we host you here, this is your second country because China assisted us to attain our independence.”
After attaining political independence, President Mugabe said, Zimbabwe embarked on another struggle to empower people economically. He said Zimbabwe was seeking financial support from the Chinese to convert the country’s vast natural resources into wealth. “We now have freedom and the task at hand is to convert our natural resources into wealth for our people,” said President Mugabe.
“The main area of this struggle is fighting poverty and backwardness. The other key areas include roads, rail and infrastructure development.” In response, President Xi who was speaking through an interpreter, said China placed high premium to its relations with Zimbabwe. He said his visit, which was the only one on a bilateral level during his second visit to Africa, was in fulfilment of the promise that he made to President Mugabe last year that Zimbabwe would be his first destination on his second visit to Africa.
“I am fulfilling that promise,” said President Xi to deafening applause. “I was overwhelmed by the welcome by President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe at the airport. “President Mugabe is a seasoned statesman and a founding father of Africa who is respected across the continent. In China, we also have the same people whom we hold in high regard.”
President Xi hailed President Mugabe for leading Zimbabwe on a development path and uncompromised stance towards external interference. He said the relationship between the two countries was premised on a mutual and win-win basis. “Last year Zimbabwe and China agreed to be good friends and brothers on an equal footing,” he said.
“The relationship between Zimbabwe and China has stood the test of time and is one of the best relationships between the developing countries.” President Xi said it was his hope that President Mugabe would lead the African Union to new heights as a respected statesman. Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his Chinese counterpart Mr Wang Yi, said the leaders had a successful meeting during a closed session at State House.
Minister Mumbengegwi said Beijing was an important friend of Harare, which vetoed a resolution by some Western powers that sought to impose devastating sanctions on Zimbabwe under the United Nations in 2008. Mr Yi said the visit by President Xi gave impetus to the flourishing relationship between Zimbabwe and China.
He said the two leaders agreed to upgrade the relationship from trade of primary commodities to investments and beneficiation.