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Zim, China: Growing a forest of relations

17 Dec, 2015 - 00:12 0 Views

The Herald

Sydney Kawadza Senior Features Writer
Dú mù bù chéng lín, dān xián bù chéng yīn is a Chinese proverb about co-operation. Literally, it means a single tree does not make a forest or a single string cannot make music. The popular saying when further expounded means many things require people to work together to achieve an end. This was the lesson Zimbabwe got from the Asian giant after the world turned its back on the Southern African nation.

Zimbabwe’s land reform programme had attracted the chagrin of the West, particularly, the United States, Britain and their allies.

The West quickly imposed illegal sanctions to hurt the Zimbabwean economy.

However, President Mugabe reciprocated and set his sights on the rising sun – in the East.

The Look East policy was literally ignoring the colonial dusk for a new dawn of partnership for mutual benefit.

China’s economy, with a US$10,4 trillion Gross Domestic Product, is the second largest in the world.

Zimbabwe’s Look East policy has seen Chinese companies investing into the various sectors of the economy.

The investment drive has not only helped Government successfully re-buff the effects of the sanctions but also benefiting the people.

True to the Chinese proverb on co-operation, Zimbabwe could not have done it without their Asian counterparts.

President Mugabe has aptly declared the Chinese “Zimbabwe’s all-weather friends”.

The jobs created by these investments can never be over-emphasised.

Some of these Chinese companies have contributed to the social well-being of many Zimbabweans.

One such company is the Tian Ze Tobacco Company (PVT) Ltd which has been in Zimbabwe during the country’s most trying times.

The tobacco company also survived the economic downturn that affected the country.

Since 2005 when the tobacco company opened its doors in Zimbabwe many tobacco farmers have found a lifelong partner for development and growth.

Despite capacitating tobacco farmers across Zimbabwe, Tian Ze has been working in various communities for the benefit of the local people.

Tian Ze Tobacco is Zimbabwe-registered international tobacco merchant involved in tobacco contract growing, auction floor purchasing, processing and exporting of tobacco to China.

According to the company’s deputy managing director Mr Li Haiyang, the company has embarked on a number of social responsibility initiatives to improve the quality of life for the people of Zimbabwe.

“In addition to providing the best and most viable pricing model to farmers in Zimbabwe, we have grown one of the strongest corporate citizenship based on respecting, developing and fostering relationships in the communities we operate in,” he said recently.

Mr Li was speaking after handing over Christmas goodies worth $5 085 at Upenyu Hutsva Children’s Home in Highfield, Harare.

“The plight of disadvantaged children continues to be Tian Ze Tobacco’s major concern and we dedicate our resources to Upenyu Hutsva Children’s Home as a charity,” he said.

Hupenyu Hutsva Children’s Home is a Government-run orphanage under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services.

The institution caters for abandoned, neglected or orphaned children.

The company assists the institution with stationery, school uniforms

and groceries donations, including Christmas hampers valued at $5 000 annually.

“We have also established a poultry project for layers while there is a special fund for excelling students at the children’s home,” Mr Li said.

The tobacco company has also committed itself to providing the children with basic learning material, normal nutrition and uniforms.

“We regularly donate textbooks for primary school learning for all subjects, food items and winter uniforms, that is, shoes and jerseys,” he said.

“We view children as the best hope for the future and should therefore be afforded equal opportunity to develop their talents.”

In 2014, the tobacco company paid school fees assistance for academically gifted orphans offering them the opportunity to access better education.

Tian Ze Tobacco Company handed over a state-of-the-art and fully furnished school to house schoolchildren who have been learning under trees at Dunnolly Primary School in Beatrice in October 2013.

“The buildings comprising of six learning classrooms, one administration block, a guard house and a toilet block have seen enrolment for the school rising from just 100 pupils to more than 400 children.

“The school’s construction has really assisted the adjacent communities in the Beatrice because children were walking long distances to go to school.”

Mr Li said his organisation has also been working with the Chinese Medical Team in Zimbabwe to offer Free Health Clinics in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and the Midlands provinces.

“These clinics have afforded people the chance to have their health problems examined and treated by a group of medical experts ranging from general practitioners, surgeons, physicians and gynaecologists for free.”

He said Tian Ze Tobacco Company’s expatriate management team is also involved in some social responsibility work.

“Our second session management team led by former managing director Mr Shao Yan supported 35 orphans from Hupenyu Hutsva Children’s Home with their school fees requirements amounting to $80 per child per year using personal funds.

“In January 2014, the fourth session management team, head by Mr Zhang Heng followed suit and made a decision to complement Tian Ze’s robust social responsibility by pooling their personal resources together in support of Obert Mberengwa, an excelling former Dunnolly Primary School pupil who passed his Grade Seven examinations

with four units but faced with the prospect of not proceeding to secondary school because the parents could not afford.

“The financial support, valued at about $850 a year, will go towards the child’s tuition fees and uniforms throughout his secondary education.”

Obert is currently a Form Two student at Hatcliffe Secondary School in Harare.

Since its inception in 2005, Tian Ze Tobacco’s export activities has been ever increasing, with China now the largest export destination for Zimbabwean tobacco consuming more

than 40 percent of the country’s golden leaf.

Tian Ze is 100 percent owned by China Tobacco Company which in turn is owned by the Chinese Government, through the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration.

The tobacco company not only purchases its tobacco directly from local auction floors and contracted tobacco farmers but also buys processed tobacco from other local tobacco companies.

In the SADC region, Tian Ze Tobacco is supervising the sourcing of tobacco leaf from Zambia and Malawi on behalf of China Tobacco Company.

The 2015 selling season saw Tian Ze Tobacco claiming the top position in terms of market share, up from third position the previous year.

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