HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsAnyone knows what happened to the mega China deals?

Anyone knows what happened to the mega China deals?


It has become trite to point to the obvious fact that heroes of the liberation struggle would feel betrayed if they were to catch a glimpse of Zimbabwe today.

guest column: Learnmore Zuze

With Heroes Day gone, this seems to be the unfortunate yet most sticking-out point now synonymous with the once-esteemed national holiday.

In the last few years Heroes Day has been overshadowed by this melancholic and cutting, yet accurate message.

I found it compelling, therefore, not to replicate this now all-too common message.

It must be mentioned unreservedly, without fear that the heroes’ holiday, like many others, has been robbed of its significance.

It, therefore, makes plenty of sense to focus on the here and now.

Zimbabweans are carrying a crushing weight of poverty and the government has promised to ameliorate the suffering time without number.

In fact, it has become custom for the governing party to promise and not deliver.

Talk of the two million jobs.

Now, from around 2014, Zimbabweans have been bombarded with government talk of the much-vaunted multi-billion-dollar “mega deals with China”.

State media have sung the mega deals song for too long now, but apparently there is nothing happening on the ground.

Since 2014, one would think that the deals were about to be consummated.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Harare in December 2015 where he signed several memoranda of understanding (MoUs), amid hopes that Beijing would rescue Zimbabwe’s sinking economy.

Xi met with Mugabe amidst great economic revival hope.

Chinese media tellingly reported that Xi merely said China was willing to encourage capable companies to invest in Zimbabwe and expand mutually beneficial co-operation.

Zanu PF and the government have overplayed these overtures and often described China as the country’s “all-weather friend” in the face of alleged vilification by the British and the Americans, among other Western nations.

Talk of boosting co-operation between the two countries has been the gist each time State media mentions China.

But what exactly do we see on the ground?

Is there anything that remotely resembles any pouring of money or beneficial investment by the Chinese?

The truth stands in stark contrast.

The country’s economic situation continues to worsen.

Apart from all-talk, no meaningful investment has come from the Eastern economic colossus to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s dying economy.

In fact, Zimbabwe has been lurching from one crisis to the next with the agility of a mountain goat.

The Chinese have, in the last few years, set up shops and a number of concerns much to their benefit and seem adept at siphoning the United States dollar out of the country.

It is time we faced the truth.

What good has the Look East policy brought forth since it became the byword?

The Chinese are not daft.

Time has lapsed now and we should see that the bus has left.

Surely, if the mega deals were meant to yield something, by now the fruits should be seen or at least the offshoots of the deals ought to be manifesting.

The reality is grim.

It has become increasingly obvious that China will not rush to pump money into a depraved situation; they also have horse sense.

The Chinese, without doubt, have a robust business sense.

Yes, Zimbabwe may sound the friendship trumpet to all who care to listen, but this never translates into constructive deals.

The apparent and brutal truth is that, just like any other sensible nation, the Asian economic giant is affected by Zimbabwe’s shaky investment laws that do not instil confidence in investors.

China may be friends, true, but nothing takes the place of creating an investor-friendly environment.

Nothing can substitute the overwhelming need for clear and workable economic policies.

The failure to shift the country’s economic fortunes also cannot be divorced from the country’s poor governance culture that has come to define the country over the years.

Apart from the Chinese deals, Russian deals, long-mentioned enthusiastically, remain paper deals.

The President has been to Japan as well, coming with a message of hope that investment was coming by way of these Eastern nations, but the cold truth is clear for all to see.

Again, we heard at one time that Iran and South Africa were going to channel huge sums to Zimbabwe, yet nothing has materialised.

In short, the government has entered into several deals with foreign countries, but the projects just won’t start.

What is happening here?

It’s simple on closer analysis.

These nations are not daft at all.

Zimbabwe is a country with a lot of unresolved issues and one can only be imprudent, Aliko Dangote included, to rush in to pour money in a misty uncertain environment.

These so-called mega deals are indeed a pipe dream as long as there is no meaningful change to governance and commitment to such things as the rule of law, including clarity on the thorny issue of succession.

Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail: lastawa77@gmail.com

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