FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa will lead a 20-member inter-ministerial delegation to China during which he hopes to convince the Chinese to provide financial assistance to fund his government‘s economic blueprint.
Zimbabwe needs US$27 billion to fund the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).
The team includes ministers Sithembiso Nyoni (Small and Medium Enterprises) and Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce) and officials from different ministries.
According to information obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Chinamasa’s team will depart on Tuesday on a 10-day working visit ostensibly to “study the working of the Chinese economy at the invitation of the Chinese government.”
“The delegation is leaving for China on the 8th (of July) as guests of the Chinese government ostensibly to study the workings of the Chinese economy but Chinamasa is expected to use the opportunity to negotiate for Chinese funding,” said a government official.
“Chinese officials are also expected to make a reciprocal visit in the coming months and all of this will culminate in a visit to Zimbabwe by the Chinese premier Li Keqiang early next year.”
This is not the first time Chinamasa has been to the Asian country but so far he has had no joy. Earlier this year he failed to secure US$10 billion support to finance ZimAsset.
“The Chinese wanted something more tangible than a mere policy pronouncement such as ZimAsset,” a top government official said of Chinamasa’s unsuccessful trip in January, adding that “they were very clear that they wanted bankable projects as well as a breakdown of when the projects that the government plans to undertake will break even.”
ZimAsset aims to grow the economy by 6,1% this year, with the ultimate target of achieving a 9, 9% growth rate by 2018 — but government is struggling to secure funding for these plans.
Chinamasa and Bimha were not available for comment as their phones were unreachable. Minister Nyoni confirmed the trip but could not give details on the proposed programme.
“Yes we are going to China for an inter-ministerial visit. We have not yet been briefed on the parameters of the meeting,” Nyoni said in an interview on Wednesday afternoon.