ZIMBABWE yesterday signed three agreements with China that will see the construction of the Parliament, high performance computer centre and rehabilitation of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to the tune $213 million.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Officiating at the signing of the agreements yesterday, Finance and Economic Planning minister Patrick Chinamasa said the framework agreement on the concessionary loan amounting to $153 million for the upgrading and expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport would be administered through the Export-Import Bank of China.
“The project entails the expansion of the terminal building, rehabilitation of the runway, installation of the communication system, refurbishment of the fire station and new satellite station,” he said.
The loan will be paid in 20 years (including 7 years grace period) at an interest rate of 2% per annum.
China also extended two grants worth $60 million towards the construction of new Parliament building in Mount Hampden and the high performance computer centre phase two at the University of Zimbabwe.
Also present at the signing ceremony was Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira, Local Government minister July Moyo and deputy Finance minister Terrence Mukupe.
Chinamasa said the support springs from the State visit by Chinese President XI Jinping on December 1, 2015 where he pledged to support the construction of the new Parliament building, adding that more deals with China were in the offing.
“China is the only source of infrastructure financing. If you look at Kenya, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo their source of funding is China. We look forward to China and we have a lot to know from them. They are second largest economy after United States of America,” he said.
Chinamasa admitted that the country was failing to timeously service previous loans given by China for the past year or so due to the difficult economic environment.
But he, however, said today’s National Budget presentation will show that the country was back in serious business and set to be fully integrated into the international community.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said China was committed to facilitate funds towards the construction of key projects in Zimbabwe.
“The Chinese government will continue to support the Zimbabwean government and people in their economic revival and social development. The agreement we have signed today is just a testimony of our efforts and our true friendship that withstands the test of time,” he said.
Zimbabwe has in the past received support targeting various projects in education, agriculture, energy, transport and communication.
The country sees China as its all-weather friend since looking East over a decade ago after relations with the West soured over human rights violations.
While other countries have benefitted with China investing heavily in infrastructure, Zimbabwe has been lagging behind due to policy inconsistencies.