The National Defence College will be built with material, technology and services brought into the country from China, a development that raises eyebrows as Zimbabwe advocates for indigenisation and empowerment in all sectors of the economy.
Article 2, 5 of the government concessional loan agreement on the Zimbabwe Defence College project between the government of Zimbabwe and the Export-Import Bank of China stipulates that first preference for the purchase of goods will be from China.
“The goods, technologies and services purchased by using the proceeds of the facility shall be purchased from China preferentially and also from Zimbabwe where this will benefit the project and end user,” reads Article 2, 5 of the agreement.
During debate on the ratification of the loan agreement in Parliament a fortnight ago, MDC-T MP for Mazowe Central, Shepherd Mushonga, and Zanu PF MP for Buhera North, William Mutomba, tried in vain to convince the Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa, that the agreement should be amended to favour local businesses.
Mushonga said there was no value added to Zimbabweans by constructing the Defence College except for the structure.
“We want 51% for Zimbabwean companies. Where is the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, when this agreement is being made?”
Mushonga queried in reference to the Indigenisation minister who was not in the House when the agreement was being debated.
“We want an amendment for 51% to indigenous companies because the Chinese are foreigners and we want a clause put in the agreement to say 51% should go to indigenous Zimbabwean companies. Let us unite to ask the minister to go back and amend the loan agreement,” he said.
Mutomba also tried to make his voice heard on the issue and said the Chinese were going to benefit more than Zimbabwean companies from the construction of the army college.
“At least 60% of the building materials should be locally sourced. This will assist in creating employment for the building sector, especially those companies that manufacture window frames and door frames. Those companies are not able to produce at the moment because there is no demand and there is no money and $98 million is a big injection into the building industry,” said Mutomba.