From Lovemore Chikova in BEIJING, China
CHINA will deliver on all the mega deals signed between President Robert Mugabe and his counterpart President Xi Jinping and the Asian economic giant will not disappoint Zimbabwe, China’s director of African Affairs Department, Lin Songtian, has said. This pours cold water on heightened speculation that the deals hang in the balance after the government told all diamond mining companies, including those owned by the Chinese, to leave Chiadzwa for refusing to join the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.
The Chinese government said the deals were on course, urging Zimbabwe to play its part more prominently to expedite their implementation.
In an interview, Lin, who is also the secretary general of Chinese Follow-up Committee on the Forum on China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), said China would deliver on all promises made.
“It’s okay, we’re taking very seriously whatever the commitment made by my President to his Excellency the President (Mugabe),” he said. “We will deliver each of them, no problem. But what can we do there, it’s step by step and when the condition there is ready, the Zimbabwean side gets ready there, we’re ready.”
Lin said people needed to understand that there was good coordination and co-operation between China and Zimbabwe.
“Step by step, the things are going on so well,” he said. “Governments from the two sides, we’re working fast to make sure everything is there.
“We’ve a lot of projects there, some of them are already on site. We’re speeding up the process for each of the projects. So, there’s no problem. Thank you for your concern about the delivery, the implementation, implementation now is more important.”
Lin said there was a need to speed up the necessary procedures for the deals to start making an impact.
“For China’s side no problem, we’re ready, but of course from your side, my side, each of us will need to follow the procedure to complete the deals,” he said.
Lin gave the example of the new Parliament Building expected to be built in Mt Hampden area, where the government has not yet cleared the ground in readiness for the ground breaking ceremony.
He said the Zimbabwean side should also put the road leading to the new Parliament Building in place before the Chinese moved in to start construction work.
“My dear, we need the time because, for example, we’re about to build the Parliament Building, but for the building you have to offer the land, clear the land and also build the road,” said Lin.
“The Zimbabwean side must get ready for us to go there and break the ground. The road to reach the Parliament isn’t yet there. So, you see, in co-operation we need two sides to move in the same direction, you understand.
“Now your side has to select which is the true reliable contractor for the road. That’s the procedure.”
Lin said the power generation project at Hwange Thermal Power Station was taking off, with the Chinese partner Sinohydro already on the ground.
For private firms from China, Lin said, it was up to Zimbabwe to offer them favourable and attractive conditions.
“We’ve so many Chinese companies there (Zimbabwe) and you’re the hosts, if you like to see more investors there, you’ve to create a favourable conditions and invite them, to attract them to come in,” he said.
“The investment project is by the private sector and the investment project will create more jobs for the people and of course they pay tax to the government.
“But you’ve to attract them and keep them there. I hope your government, you understand, you know how to attract – attract is the word, attract. We can’t force them to go, but you’ve to attract them and hold them there.
“So, business is business, it depends on you. For example in China, whoever wants to come to China, we open the door, welcome them and provide them with services, good services, good environment, favourable environment to attract them and hold them here. That’s the way we’re doing it.”
Zimbabwe and China sealed landmark deals worth more than $4 billion when President Mugabe paid a State visit to the Asian country in 2014. President Xi paid a reciprocal State visit to Zimbabwe last year where he witnessed the signing of 12 more deals together with President Mugabe.
The deals will convert provisions of the government’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, into programmes of action. The two nations signed 12 investment agreements covering different sectors of the economy.
The deals include financing for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, construction of the new Parliament building and a pharmaceutical warehouse, expansion of a national fibre optic broadband project and provision of wildlife monitoring equipment among others.
Other deals are in infrastructure development in the areas of railways and roads.
China is now the largest source of investment in Zimbabwe and in 2013, the Asian giant invested $602 million.
The Asian economic giant has become one of the major trade partners of Zimbabwe and from 2010 to 2014, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was 22 percent.