We'll seek support from China: Chinamasa

HARARE - Zimbabwe will increase economic ties with friendly countries like China to develop the economy as Western nations maintain their sanctions after President Robert Mugabe's re-election, the new finance minister said on Wednesday.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader at 89 who won a fresh five-year term in a July 31 vote his opponents say was rigged, on Wednesday swore in his cabinet, including Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa who was named on Tuesday.

Pointing to multiple flaws in last month's election cited by domestic vote observers, Western governments, especially the United States, have questioned the credibility of the outcome and are considering whether to prolong sanctions against Mugabe.
However, African election observers broadly endorsed the voting and its result as peaceful and free.

Chinamasa told reporters the Zanu PF party government had accepted the reality that the West would not remove financial and travel sanctions on Mugabe and his senior allies and would not release any direct financial assistance.

"Because the doors have been closed by those who used to be our traditional partners, we have to intensify new economic relationships and friendships. That means every country that is friendly to Zimbabwe, including China," he said.

After Western states imposed sanctions a decade ago against Mugabe over alleged violations of democracy and rights abuses in the former British colony he has ruled for 33 years, China has emerged as a major investor in the southern African state.
It has built the largest alluvial diamond mine in the east of the country and runs the biggest ferrochrome producer.

A Chinese-backed firm will start mining coal in western Zimbabwe and build a 600MW coal-fired power station next year. The government has also given $1.7 billion of contracts to Chinese firms to expand the country's two largest power plants.

Under the now dissolved unity government that followed a disputed 2008 election, the economy had begun to recover. The International Monetary Fund said in June it agreed to monitor economic programs until the year end, paving the way for the clearing of billions of dollars of Zimbabwe's debt arrears.

Chinamasa, Zanu PF's top legal official and a staunch defender of Mugabe's re-election, refused to comment on whether these program would continue but said the economy faced enormous challenges.

While Washington has made clear it intends to maintain U.S. sanctions, Belgium, the centre of the global diamond trade, is demanding that the European Union lift sanctions on one Zimbabwean mining firm.

Mugabe later told reporters on Wednesday his new cabinet would focus on agriculture and diamond and gold mining to raise money to re-start shut industries and increase government wages.

"We should organize quick-yielding sectors of the economy and these are agriculture and mining. These are the sectors I am looking at to get money quickly," the president said.

Last month, he threatened "tit-for-tat" retaliation against companies from Britain and the United States if those Western nations persisted in pressuring his government with sanctions and what he called "harassment".

Comments (2)

If Mr. Chinamasa was honest to himself he would know how his government is viewed in China..The chinese have a very unflattering view of Zimbabwe, proof is there when you look at the trade figures which regrettably REFUSE to lie. Stats show that trade between Zim and China is actually going down fast as compared to other players like Sudan, Kenya, SA, Angola, Ethiopia and so on. Why we continue to hang on to the fiction we are good friends with China is laughable in its dishonesty..but then who is surprised..We are known in and outside that we are dishonest people and who wants to do business with dishonest people? The other reason why the Chinese do not take us seriously is because although we make all these noises about being friends with them our hearts are so wound up in our endless LOVE for everything from the west hence the shrill noise about sanctions as if the West were the world, so China comes in as a second choice and who wants to be second choice??? Its actually an insult to the chinese that while they have prooved to be foul weather pals we have not stopped whingeing and mourning about invisible sanctions from our real darling pals, read WEST.

gutter poet - 15 September 2013

I am truly behind Cde Chinamasa stance that the Western countries will not remove any travel restrictions and financial support ban on Zimbabwe. We have to wake up and smell the coffee and come to the reality that gone are the days where we used to regard Western countries and their allies as the major global economic powerhouse, Eastern countries like China, India etc are now at the forefront of global macro-economics. If the new government, shift their foreign economic policy issues to the East and embrace the domestic economic policy epitomized by sanity, accountability and inclusiveness, I assure that Zimbabwe economic meltdown will be a thing of the past.

Ronnie Bhaera - 16 September 2013

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