Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe and China are working on further consolidating their relationship with detailed arrangements such as currency swaps between incoming investors and those repatriating profits. Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Wang Yi, at the end of his five-nation Africa tour yesterday, paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa at State House where the two discussed issues concerning the two countries’ relations.
Mr Wang left for China after the meeting.
President Mnangagwa confirmed that they had a fruitful meeting.
“He is very happy that we had the occasion to go over our relations between China and Zimbabwe on all issues and he goes back home satisfied that our relations are on a solid foundation.
“What remains is further consolidation and deepening those relations. We scaled up relations in September 2019 from all-weather friendship between the two countries to a strategic comprehensive partnership. We, as Zimbabwe, are happy with our relations with China,” said President Mnangagwa.
In a statement, issued from the Chinese Embassy in Harare yesterday, Mr Wang said China and Zimbabwe had achieved fruitful results and were facing important opportunities under the guidance of Presidents Xi Jinping and Mnangagwa.
He said his discussions with Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo were fruitful and confirmed that consensus was reached on a lot of important issues.
“First, China-Zimbabwe friendship is unbreakable. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Zimbabwe. Over the past 40 years, Sino-Zimbabwe friendship has withstood the test of strong winds and waves and has always been unswerving.
“Among others, the most fundamental experience is mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual support. China supports the efforts of the Zimbabwe people to safeguard its national sovereignty and national dignity, and supports its independent choice of a path to development in line with its national conditions.
“We also appreciate the fact that Zimbabwe has made its relations with China a diplomatic priority, and we thank Zimbabwe for its valuable support in relation to China’s core interests. We are willing to be good friends, good partners and good brothers with Zimbabwe forever.”
Mr Wang said China and Zimbabwe were at an important point of national development and rejuvenation and the two countries had to adhere to the concept of win-win cooperation, continue to carry out good cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, mining and actively expand new growth areas.
“As a good friend of Zimbabwe, we are also willing to actively provide policy advice in accordance with the wishes of the Zimbabwe people, and share the experience of the Chinese side. The joint construction of the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the China-Africa Cooperation Forum are two major platforms for promoting Sino-Zimbabwe cooperation, and will provide an important driving force for Zimbabwe’s economic and social development,” he said.
Mr Wang said China advocated equality among countries and opposed the use of strength over the weak.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe was working on unlocking more resources from China and would put in measures to continue attracting Chinese investment.
“One issue that has been of concern is we need to make sure there is full repatriation of profits. The returns are guaranteed so we make sure the accounts remain in hard currency or are guaranteed to be so. Those are the issues that will allow us to unlock more resources from China.
“China is the leader in the world in terms of strategies for developing infrastructure and we want to learn from them. There is a lot of resources to tap in terms of infrastructure development,” he said.
Minister Ncube said due to the difficulties of having to service debts and liabilities for Chinese investments into Zimbabwe, they had entered into a currency swap arrangement deal.
“There are those who will be investing in Zimbabwe from China and those who require their profits to be remitted back to China, which is normal. The idea is those individuals will then swap so that those investing in Zimbabwe will be able to have the domestic currency and they use foreign currency which they are bringing to invest in Zimbabwe to pay those who are exiting.
“This will do with any country that has a similar relationship as Zimbabwe. But with China specifically, we have this special relationship and the Chinese Government has approved this currency swap. It will strengthen our capacity to honour our liabilities with China and also attract new investors from China,” he said.
Minister Ncube said the currency swap had been approved and was only awaiting implementation.
On the sale of State enterprises, he said they had not discussed the issue with Mr Wang, but he was of the view that any bidder globally or locally was free to bid or express interest for Zimbabwe’s partial privatisation of its assets.