Belt & Road Initiative: A chance for Zimbabwe
Monica Mutsvangwa Special Correspondent
This is a full text of a speech delivered by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and head of delegation to the just-ended Belt Road Initiative in Beijing, China last week
Mr chairperson, I bring brotherly greetings from His Excellency, President Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, the President of the Republic and the warm people of Zimbabwe.
He also sends brotherly greetings to his counterpart, His Excellency President Xi Jinping the President of the Republic of China and the ever friendly and always helpful people of China.
Beijing and Harare share long and all weather bonds from historical mutual interaction.
My President has the grand national vision to transform Zimbabwe into a modern middle income country by 2030. To achieve this noble goal, he is championing the mantra, Zimbabwe is Open for Business.
He is keenly determined that Zimbabwe attracts the foreign direct investment that is key to fulfil his national vision. He has duly instructed his people to learn from global best practice and to proceed to excel in offering the most hospitable climate to enterprising global capital.
Chairperson, the second Belt and Road Summit could not have come at a more propitious time for Zimbabwe. I am therefore both humbled and honoured by your invitation.
The story of China’s meteoric rise to the rank of growing prosperity and the status of the second largest global economy is just so inspiring. More so to me because I am first hand witness.
I am absolutely delighted to be back in Beijing city, the historic and bustling modern capital of the People’s Republic of China. More than a decade ago I lived here as the Ambassador’s spouse on a diplomatic posting to China.
I made so many friends among the citizens of this the kind, welcoming and very hardworking Beijing population.
I had that privilege of watching the most frenetic pace of economic changes ever in the history of humankind.
I travelled to 29 of the 33 provinces of China. I saw very busy 1,3 billion Chinese citizens. They were building skyline-changing skyscrapers. The new cities and towns are now connected by world class roads and bridges.
Gleaming airports enable thousands of passenger planes to reach out to destinations within and global. The fastest of high speed trains traverse the width and breadth of China. The era of the digital and internet economy has seen China spawn leading edge companies that will delivery data speeds that are poised to transform the global economy.
All this attests to an air of a palpable sense of achievement on grand human scale. The BRI Summit is a shining example of how China wants to generously and selflessly share out its experience with all nations.
We wish other nations could embrace this noble aspiration with honest and candour. My nation of Zimbabwe knows this Chinese attribute as a well-meaning friend. Indeed ours is a case study and my presence here speaks volumes of our eagerness to learn and share without imagined fear or prejudice.
My country is keen to be a good partner of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Our ancient cultures have a history of commercial exchange. That was when both the Pacific Rim and littoral Indian Ocean states enraged in open and free trade.
Sadly the autarchic mercantilism of the imperial era as of the 16th century smothered those trade links of the Old Silk Road of land and maritime bonds.
We are glad we are back to the future with President Xi Jinping and his Belt and Road Initiative.
Zimbabwe has fertile soils and a favourable climate for farming and agro-industry.
It is a treasure trove of much desired mineral wealth. Zimbabwe has gold, diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones.
There is the diverse energy offering of hydroelectric power, thermal and coking coal, methane gas. For new and green energy there is, platinum, lithium, uranium and abundant solar.
Base metals galore include chrome, nickel, vanadium, tin, rare earths and scores of others.
Indeed President Mnangagwa often jokingly quips: “Do not ask the question what mineral deposits Zimbabwe has. Rather pose the question: what mineral we do not have”.
Our infrastructure is above average for Africa.
Unfortunately, two decades of the hostile geopolitics of sanctions imposed by large traditional trading partners have given Zimbabwe a knock.
Our new foreign policy aims to do away with the economically debilitating pariah status. Our diplomacy is moving no stone unturned. We striving to engage nations that may have been negative to us. By the same token, we are busy deepening relations with the friendly emergent economies, the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, China, India and neighbour South Africa.
We are heartened by the offering of a more diverse and competitive global financial architecture beyond the IMF-World Bank of the Breton Woods System.
Africa has for decades suffered from a drought of capital for development. We thus wish well to both the BRICS Bank and Asia Infrastructure Development Bank.
The China Africa Forum of FOCAC and its high level summits has proved a boon to my continent. We are glad it has also served as a good example to other peer capital exporting nations.
Finally, I have to speak of Zimbabwe’s highly touted human resource index. My compatriots are an organised, disciplined and hard working and youthful .
No doubt those that have stayed in the home labour market can do labour equal well if not better. For global capital, troop into Zimbabwe with your access to world markets.
That enterprising investment will be assured of the production of high quality goods churned out for the discerning global consumer by a capable Zimbabwe labour force. I can vouch for mouth-watering profits.