CHINESE President Xi Jinping could visit Zimbabwe before year-end as the two countries continue high-level engagements which the southern African country hopes will lead to the signing and implementation of investment deals to revive the battered economy, it has emerged.
Government sources who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Zimbabwe Independent said this week Jinping would be coming as per the tradition of Chinese leaders who visit countries whose heads of state and government would have earlier been invited to China, as was the case last year with President Robert Mugabe.
“It is the tradition that Chinese leaders make return visits to countries whose leaders they would have hosted the previous year,” said a senior government official. “We expect it to be no different with Zimbabwe after the president was invited there last August. We also hope the visit will bring finality to the high-level engagements which are aimed at turning the memorandums signed last year into concrete agreements that will breathe life into the economy.”
However, Joey Bimha, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, professed ignorance on the issue telling this paper: “I am not aware of that development”.
Contacted for comment, the Chinese embassy in Harare said: “The Chinese embassy doesn’t have any information on whether the Chinese leader will visit Zimbabwe this year. However, China always attaches great importance to China-Zimbabwe relations and the Chinese leaders will visit Zimbabwe at a convenient time for both sides in the future.”
Mugabe visited China last year and signed a series of memorandums of understanding which were trumpeted by the state media as “mega-deals” which would have seen the Chinese pouring billions of dollars into the infrastructure, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and energy sectors of the economy.
But there has not been much movement in terms of implementation amid indications China is holding out for reforms in parastatals and other government institutions which have failed to fulfil their potential of a 40% contribution to the gross domestic product due to a long history of corruption, poor public finance management systems and bad corporate governance.
Consequently, China has been sending delegations to engage government on parastatal reform since the beginning of the year, starting with International Co-operation Centre of the National Development and Reform Commission of China which came in January.