Brian Mudumi and Takudzwanashe Mundenga
In December 2003, the Chinese Premier then, Wen Jiabao said, “China respects and supports efforts by Zimbabwe to bring about social justice through land reform.” Indeed, Beijing’s economic support for Harare remains strong, and through its efforts, Beijing has secured the contracts to develop Zimbabwe’s agricultural, mineral and hydroelectric resources.
An American-led effort to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe failed in the Security Council in 2008, with Russia and China exercising a rare double veto to quash a resolution that they said represented excessive interference in the country’s domestic matters. China believed that the situation was still under the jurisdiction of regional bodies like the African Union and Sadc therefore it was not worth the punitive Security Council proposed resolution.
The wretched state of Libya today confirms the aftermaths of such resolutions. The Arab Spring and the post-Gaddafi era served as a lesson that Africans should resolve their own affairs internally without external influence and interference.
Libya, a once flourishing and beautiful country, is now an isolated pariah and a failed state following multilaterally certified anarchy.
China has also supplied Zimbabwe with expertise, technical assistance, and agricultural equipment, including tractors and agro-processing since then.
The Chinese state-owned firm, China International Water and Electric, had been contracted to farm 250 000 acres in southern Zimbabwe. In 2006, the Chinese government donated farm machinery worth $25 million, including 424 tractors and 50 trucks as part of a $58 million loan to the Zimbabwean government.
In 2008, the People’s Daily reported that the People’s Republic of China had invested more in Zimbabwe than any other nation, with 35 companies spending more than $600 million.
China is helping Zimbabwe in the expansion of the Kariba South Hydro Power Station which is envisaged to generate an additional 300 megawatts, the expansion of Victoria Falls Airport to promote the local tourism sector and construction of the agriculture technology demonstration centre. China has also provided farming machinery and fertilisers worth $80 million.
Now, Zimbabwe is one of the largest recipients of Chinese aid in Africa. China has provided over $1,5 billion worth of concessionary and commercial loans to Zimbabwe in recent years.
According to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the Chinese government is ready to invest in Zimbabwe’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector through training and encouraging Chinese firms to open companies in the country.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the Minister of ICT, Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin said China was working for the benefit of the two countries in the ICT sector.
“China is committed to further develop the area of ICT in Zimbabwe to further develop the mutual friendship between the two countries,” he said.
Last year the Chinese government and the Zimbabwean Government signed a $218 million deal to develop the mobile operator NetOne extension project phase two, whose implementation is currently underway.
To develop the Zimbabwean ICT sector, the Chinese government is inviting more companies from China to invest in the sector and some of the companies are already operating in the country.
The opportunity of sending Zimbabwean students to China on scholarships should help them embrace the Chinese language, technology and culture and this will be of benefit to the country because China is the world’s second largest economy.
The Government is in the process of constructing quality ICT infrastructure to create more opportunities for investors.
Today we have Chinese companies operating in partnership with local enterprises, for example, Huawei and Econet Wireless Zimbabwe are working together to produce affordable goods and services for the general populace.
The fact that China is rising on the global stage is a great opportunity for Zimbabwe to also grow its economic potential alongside a world economic giant.