CHINESE president Xi Jinping and President Robert Mugabe are next month expected to finalise investment deals worth billions of dollars whose implementation would help revive the country’s battered economy.
Government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this week Jinping will be arriving on December 1 and the highlight of his two-day stay will be the signing of US$1,3 billion agreement for energy projects, including the Hwange Thermal Power Station.
“What is guaranteed is the US$1,3 billion package for energy projects including the refurbishment of the Hwange Thermal Power Station,” said one government source.
“There will be further engagements and hopefully we can get financial backing for several other economic projects including the creation of special economic zones (Sezs) in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. We are also hoping to agree deals for the Lupane Gas Project and funding for the construction of a new parliament in Mount Hampden.”
Zimbabwe, which is seeking to emulate the Chinese model of economic growth, hopes that Jinping avails US$800 million for the establishment of Sezs in Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. A further US$100 million could also be availed for the construction of the proposed Parliament in Mount Hampden — just over 20km from Harare — which has been earmarked as the future capital city.
The sources expect that 10 MoUs will be concluded before Jinping and Mugabe depart for the China-Africa summit to be hosted in neighbouring South Africa.
Jinping will spend the second and last day of his visit in the resort town of Victoria Falls amid indications that a new visa regime to boost tourism by Chinese visitors will be launched.
Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha, however, told this paper that nothing has been finalised as the two countries are still locked in discussions over critical areas where Zimbabwe needs assistance.
“Discussions are still going on and nothing has been finalised. Our respective ministers are also meeting and discussing the areas where Zimbabwe needs assistance but the President (Jinping) is coming as was announced by the President (Mugabe),” said Bimha in an interview on Wednesday.
The Chinese embassy in Harare had not responded to emailed questions at the time of publication while calls to the embassy went unanswered.
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 see 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.