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Zimbabwean FM Biti Calls Chinese Loan to Build War College 'Criminal'


Finance Minister Tendai Biti called the deal "criminal" and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told Parliament it is time for Zimbabwe to take a fresh look at all the agreements it has signed with China

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Wednesday told Parliament he does not like a deal with China providing for a US$98 million loan to build a war college, saying it will mainly benefit the Chinese, the Zimbabwean military and ZANU-PF.

Members asked Biti, who earlier signed the agreement, why the government thought it was good for the country. Proceeds from a joint venture with the Chinese company Anjin to mine diamonds from the Marange field, will be garnished repay the loan.

Biti called the deal “criminal,” saying it will benefit the few at the expense of the many.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu took exception to the finance minister’s remarks, saying the deal is the best that Zimbabwe has ever signed with China.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told Parliament it is time for Zimbabwe to take a fresh look at all the agreements it has signed with China. He said the deals largely benefit China and its people rather than the people of Zimbabwe.

Economist John Robertson says the deal does not make economic sense for Zimbabwe.

Elsewhere, the parliamentary legal committee criticized indigenization regulations, potentially blocking the ZANU-PF side of the government from establishing a legislative framework for black empowerment and takeovers of foreign mines in particular.

Committee Chairman Shepherd Mushonga said his panel has asked the Indigenization Ministry to draft regulations that do not criminalize investors or violate the constitution.

Education Minister David Coltart, speaking in Gweru on Wednesday, asked teachers to remain patient on the issue of salaries, saying the government is aware of their plight but lacks the financial resources to properly remunerate them.

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