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China Gives Harare a $23 Million Education Grant

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made (right). (Photo/Irwin Chifera)
The Chinese government has provided Harare with a $23.3 million grant to build schools in new resettlement areas where some students are taking classes in the open 14 years after the chaotic land reform program began.

As a result, thousands of the country's students will soon be learning in real classrooms following the Chinese grant.

The land reform program that started in 2000 left many farming communities broken with some infrastructure torched by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle who led to land grabs.

More than four thousand white commercial farmers and their workers were displaced at the height of the agrarian reforms.

Speaking at the grant signing ceremony, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa admitted the land reform program was chaotic, adding some of the country's students were now using tobacco barns and open spaces to learn, leaving them exposed to harsh weather conditions.

“Things have not really been up to standard in terms of learning facilities on the newly resettled areas,” said Chinamasa. “So this money will go a long way in providing a conducive learning environment for our children around the farming communities.”

Chinamasa said he negotiated the grant with the Chinese during a visit to Beijing in January, adding another $320 million grant to boost the economy was also discussed.

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, said his government was committed to helping Harare to revive its economy.

Meanwhile, Chinamasa also said the country's economic blue-print dubbed "Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation" (Zimasset) will not be successful without external funding.

He, however, said Harare is not sure how much it requires in external financial support for its economic revival program.

Some economic analysts blame Zimbabwe’s economic downturn on the chaotic land reform program that started in 2000 and lack of foreign direct investment that they attribute to alleged election rigging and human rights violations by the administration of President Robert Mugabe.