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Opposition Parties, Observers Demand Public Scrutiny of China, Zimbabwe ‘Mega’ Deals

An unidentfied Chinese national and a Zimbabwean man hug while welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping upon his arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, Dec. 1. 2015. Jinping is in Zimbabwe for a two day State visit during which he is set to sign some bilateral agreements aimed at strengthening relationships between the two countries. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

With the dust still to settle following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Zimbabwe, which saw and China penning the so-called mega deals, opposition People’s Democratic Party leader and former finance minister, Tendai Biti, is urging Zimbabweans to reject them until their contents are made public.

Among the deals signed are $1.4 billion and $98 million China’s Export and Import Bank’s concessionary loan agreements for the expansion of Hwange Power Station and TelOne’s fiber optic project.

The other deals were agreements for the construction of the national pharmaceutical warehouse, new parliament and donation of wildlife monitoring equipment.

The other agreements cover co-operation in aviation, avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion, while the other ones cover the agreement on a framework on investment co-operation and the other covers technical and economic co-operation.

Biti told Studio 7 ordinary people must reject all these deals until their contents are made public and the contracts published.

He said all these deals must be taken to parliament for scrutiny, adding that previous Chinese deals signed between Harare and Beijing did not benefit Zimbabweans.

Former treasury chief economist, Masimba Manyanya, said while Zimbabwe desperately needs money for infrastructural development, there is need for financial and economic governance structures that protect the integrity of national policy.

He said there is nothing wrong with Harare borrowing money from the Chinese as long as the money is used wisely.

Economic commentator, Masimba Kuchera, said what’s worrying about the Chinese deals is the lack of transparency.

He said another major area of concern was that all these Chinese funded projects were awarded to Chinese companies, adding in most cases they imported every material from China, brought their own engineers and only hired ordinary laborers in Zimbabwe.

Despite all these concerns, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the Chinese were playing a crucial role in reviving the country’s economy, especially through power generation.

A representative of Sinohyro a Chinese company that has been contracted to for the Hwange project, Noel Gonah, told the state owned Herald newspaper recently that the project would start following President Xi’s visit.

He, however, said besides the Chinese loan funds, the Zimbabwean government would have to pay $300 million for the project.

According to ministry of finance, there are more than 100 Chinese companies operating in Zimbabwe.

Report on Chinese Deals Filed By Irwin Chifera
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