EDITORIAL COMMENT: Sino-Zim deals, all shoulders to the wheel
There are many interpretations given to a famous Chinese proverb which says, “if you are planning for a year grow grain, if you are planning for 10 years grow trees, but if you are planning for 100 years grow men”. Most easily think that it supports colonisation, but further analysis reveals that it means good economies, businesses or even relationships are built by investing time and energy.
Yesterday, China showed that it had built a strong relationship with Zimbabwe by signing 12 significant deals which usher in a new era of technical and economic co-operation between the two countries.
While it is no secret that China played a key role during the liberation struggle and continued to play a supportive role when, together with Russia, they vetoed proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe; that relationship had not brought about significant gains to the economy.
However, the State visit by President Xi Jinping showed that the historical relationship had shifted towards economic and technical cooperation between the two countries. It is becoming increasingly difficult to turn away from China: China’s rapid industrialisation multiplied by its size, is having an impact on the world of the same magnitude as Britain’s industrialisation in the early 19th century and America’s in the late 19th century.
Therefore because of its position in the global economy, the world cannot afford to ignore when China commits its investment in countries such as Zimbabwe.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, as reported elsewhere in this paper, said that Zimbabwe cannot afford to ignore the need to deepen economic and trade relations with China, the world’s biggest economy and consumer of most of its primary exports.
Of the deals, the most significant is the financial agreement for a long-term loan from China Export and Import Bank for $1,2 billion for the expansion of the country’s largest coal-fired plant, Hwange Power Station. Hwange Power Station expansion project would see the power station adding two more units to give a combined generation capacity of 600 megawatts (MW) by 2018, a development that would ease power outages.
The total cost for the project is estimated to be $1,4 billion and Eximbank is expected to bankroll the project to the tune of $1,174 billion, while the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will provide the balance. This project will go a long way in alleviating the country’s crippling power shortages.
Another significant deal is for the long awaited construction of a new parliament in Mt Hampden which translates years of just talk to action while more deals were signed in the wildlife, pharmaceutical sectors. The private sector also signed deals with AVM Africa set for a major transformation which will impact not only the transport, but agriculture sectors.
Obviously, a lot more work needs to be done in order to deepen and strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
There is still a lot that Zimbabwe can learn from its richer friends in areas such as human resources management, Special Economic Zones, science and technology.