The government should be wary of how they sign contracts with the Chinese in the extractive (mineral) industry as they might get themselves in a situation whereby they think they are getting rid of imperialists in the form of Europeans, only to bring in new ones in the form of Chinese.
This was said yesterday by the director of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, Mutuso Dliwayo, at the annual strategy meeting of the African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society attended by representatives of different civic society organisations from Africa.
“The Chinese are known as the new entrants in the extractive sector, but traditionally we had Europeans and Americans playing a critical role in mining sectors in Africa,” said Dliwayo.
“The entry by the Chinese should be seen as an advantage to us in Africa in that we should use it to negotiate better deals and come up with fiscal regimes that will enable us to derive benefits,” he said.
Dliwayo said in entering mining contracts with the Chinese, Zimbabwe should question whether they are not continuing with the same policies of the United States and the European Union because the Chinese might just be doing the same thing.
“The Chinese are taking raw materials from this country and they are repeating the same model that has resulted in Africa not benefiting.
“Economically, China might not really be different from the Europeans and African countries need to come up with new developmental methods that will result in us getting value for our minerals,” Dliwayo said.
A participant from the Third World Network Africa in Ghana, Yao Graham, said China had become not only a workshop of the world, but because of the size of its economy and population, a consumer of minerals.
“These Chinese investors represent both an opportunity and a threat in the sense that their monopoly cannot be challenged. If African countries organise themselves, they can play against the Asians and get maximum benefit from their minerals,” said Graham.
He said it was important for African countries to avoid negotiating individually with China, but negotiate as a continent to derive maximum benefit.