Lovemore Chikova in BEIJING, China—
Zimbabwe and China have signed an agreement worth $46 million as part of the first tranche of funds for the construction of the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden. The agreement was signed by Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister here during a meeting on the follow-up to the implementation of various projects being carried out by the Chinese.
This came as Chinese Foreign Minister Mr Wang Yi told the same meeting that Zimbabwe was among six countries in Africa with which the Asian economic giant had signed framework agreements for production capacity cooperation.
The meeting that was attended by more than 100 government ministers from African countries, was a follow-up to the Johannesburg summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) held last year.
Minister Mpofu told The Herald last week that apart from funding for the new Parliament Building, more agreements would be signed with China in agriculture and housing under the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement.
He was leading a delegation to the meeting made up of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
“You know, Zimbabwe is an active member of this organisation (Focac) and we have submitted priority projects to be considered,” said Minister Mpofu.
“We submitted projects that we feel are key under our economic revival, that is agriculture, support in agriculture, as well as support in housing. Hence the presence of Minister Made and Minister Kasukuwere to actually beef up our delegation in arguing our case for the sup- port.”
Minister Mpofu said he had a long meeting with Chinese Minister of Agriculture Mr Han Changfu during which they discussed some of the deals. “Among six or so projects that were submitted, we have now centred on the two that I mentioned and the discussions and engagement that we have made so far are very encouraging,” he said.
“We prioritised our initial submissions to deal with agriculture and housing because any economy can only be active if agriculture is producing something. That is where the sustenance of the economy is because agriculture leads all other sectors of the economy into boosting production.”
Minister Mpofu said his delegation, which also included officials from the President’s Office, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Environment, Water and Climate and Industry and Commerce, was also in China to review progress on all mega projects being undertaken by the Asian country in Zimbabwe.
China signed deals worth billions of dollars with Zimbabwe in various sectors in the last two years mostly in infrastructure such as energy and power, rail, roads and housing. Some of the deals like the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station by Sino-Hydro are already being implemented, while the paperwork is in progress for others.
Also addressing the same meeting, Minister Wang said Zimbabwe was among the six countries that had signed production capacity cooperation agreements with China. “We have signed framework agreements for production capacity cooperation with six countries including Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria and Zimbabwe,” he said.
“A significant number of large-scale infrastructure projects in rail, road, port, airport, electricity, water supply and telecommunications are well under- way.” Mr Wang said there was need to keep momentum on the cooperation agreements between China and African countries to fast-track the implementation process.
China has also donated emergency food aid to 14 African countries, including Zimbabwe, affected by the El Nino-induced drought, Chinese Minister of Commerce Mr Gao Hucheng also told the delegates.