HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF yesterday extended a gesture of goodwill towards China, offering thanks for the help in last year’s controversial poll victory.
China’s ties with Zimbabwe have long been cordial, with the Asian giant providing handouts such as food, fertiliser, and machinery worth millions of United States dollars to the southern African nation, although it has balked on economic and financial bailouts for the financially-beleaguered ruling regime.
Zanu PF paid tribute to the Communist Party of China (CPC) for the role it played in ensuring victory for Zanu PF in last year’s elections.
Party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo thanked visiting members of the CPC at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare yesterday for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Zimbabwe in the face of “vindictive” Western sanctions.
“I wish to commend our colleagues from the CPC for the assistance rendered to Zanu PF in its preparations for the 2013 harmonised elections,” Khaya Moyo said.
“The CPC should draw satisfaction from the fact that Zanu PF went on to register an emphatic victory during those elections.”
Zanu PF’s gratitude to China comes amid a bitter dispute over last July’s poll that saw Zanu PF win more than two thirds of parliamentary seats, while Mugabe, 90, won 61 percent of the presidential vote and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai got 33 percent.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been deadlocked for the past 10 months over the disputed election.
The independent election watchdog the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said in its critique of last year’s Zimbabwe election that registration flaws by the State-run Zimbabwe Electoral Commission may have disenfranchised up to a million people out of 6,4 million registered voters.
Ahead of the poll last year, Zanu PF provincial chairpersons travelled to Beijing where they received ideological and mass mobilisation training from the CPC. The Chinese communist party also helped Zanu PF with campaign material, including
T-shirts and other paraphernalia.
Khaya Moyo told the CPC delegation that his party had learnt the hard way after the devastating poll defeat in 2008 that culminated in a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai.
He told the visiting delegation that they did not envisage another poll defeat in future, saying they had already started campaigning for the 2018 polls.
“Plans are already underway to prepare for the 2018 elections with new systems to improve our membership base being put in place,” Khaya Moyo said.
“Our cadres who include provincial chairpersons and commissars received very useful training in China and it brought tremendous results.”
Guo Jinlong, a member of the CPC political bureau, said his party and country cherished their cordial relations with Africa which dates back to the period when the continent was resisting European colonial rule.
Jinlong said China’s strong partnership with African countries was anchored on its development strategy.
“China will stand by its African brothers despite changing international political dynamics on the basis of four guiding principles of sincerity, results-oriented engagement, affinity and good faith,” Ginlong said.
Chinese financial institutions have provided concessionary and commercial loans to Zimbabwe, with China’s Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) bankrolling six key projects namely the construction of the National Defence College, Harare Water Treatment project, medical equipment for hospitals, Victoria Falls Airport renovation, NetOne upgrading; and expansion of the Kariba South Hydro Power Station, to the tune of $820 million.
The Chinese delegation will have an opportunity to tour the Victoria Falls before travelling to other parts of Matabeleland provinces, where they will meet Zanu PF officials.