Historic moment beckons for Zim
Felex Share Senior Reporter
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in the country this morning for a historic two-day State visit during which he will witness the signing of fresh deals with Zimbabwe expected to set the tone for the accelerated implementation of accords already in motion.
President Xi will join President Mugabe to witness the signing of the agreements that will turn provisions of Government’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, into programmes of action.
Most of the mega deals between Zimbabwe and China have a major bearing on Zim-Asset as they are meant to provide a quick solution to the economic growth programme.
The first series of the mega deals was signed during President Mugabe’s State visit to the Asian economic giant in August last year.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha said technocrats yesterday finalised the texts of the agreements to be signed and that everything was ready for the signatures.
President Xi’s momentous State visit is expected to quicken implementation of the agreements already in place, while another set of deals will be signed as several Memoranda of Understanding will be turned into covenants for them to become implementable.
See also Pages 2,3, & 8
His visit marks the second time a sitting Chinese President has visited Zimbabwe, the first being that of President Jiang Zemin in 1996.
President Xi leads a delegation of about 200 people, including Cabinet ministers and members of the Communist Party of China.
The team also includes business executives from various sectors in search of business opportunities and exploring possible joint ventures with Zimbabweans.
Ambassador Bimha said all was set for President Xi’s visit and that Zimbabwe was fully prepared to host the leader of the second largest economy in the world.
“We are fully prepared for the visit,” Ambassador Bimha said.
“The programme is in place and will be published at the appropriate time. The delegation’s accommodation and security are fixed and we are ready to give them a welcome befitting the excellent relations Zimbabwe enjoys with China,” he said.
On the mega deals to be signed he said: “We have agreed in principle and we are putting them (agreements) on the agreement text to be signed and this is what we will be doing most of the day (yesterday).”
Ambassador Bimha said President Xi’s visit was going to be a resounding success.
“It’s all systems go and the agreements to be signed will be in the areas of communications, energy, civil aviation, transport, infrastructure, to mention just a few. The financial value will be disclosed to you at the appropriate time.”
It is understood the deals run into billions of dollars given the nature of the projects.
The Chinese government will provide financial support for the projects, most of which are key economic enablers.
Ambassador Bimha could not also reveal President Xi’s itinerary, but according to protocol for a State visit, he will inspect a guard of honour at the Harare International Airport and receive gun salute reserved for a Head of State.
President Xi is also expected to be treated to a State banquet after the day’s proceedings.
During the State banquet, the two Presidents will each deliver a speech and both are likely to touch on the warm relations between their countries and the new areas of cooperation that are turning political relations into economic benefits.
Some of the projects from the agreements signed last year have already taken off, especially in energy and infrastructure development sectors, with the expansion of Kariba South Power Station underway, the Victoria Falls International Airport expansion nearing completion and the NetOne broadband expansion being executed.
President Xi’s visit flies in the face of Western detractors who view Zimbabwe as a pariah State and is an endorsement of the economic potential the country has.
The cordial relations between Harare and Beijing have unsettled many Western countries that isolated Zimbabwe when it embarked on pro-people and black economic empowerment policies such as the land reform programme.
President Mugabe has indicated that Zimbabwe is looking forward to President Xi’s visit with great interest.
On the other hand, President Xi said despite the endless and multifaceted changes in the international landscape, China’s foreign policy would continue in consolidating relations with Zimbabwe and other African nations.
From Zimbabwe, President Xi will 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 on the basis of mutual benefit.