'Mega-deals' suffer stillbirth

HARARE - Two years after President Robert Mugabe’s government announced and signed a number of much-hyped “mega-deals” with Zimbabwe’s supposed all-weather friends China and Russia, very little is happening on the ground to suggest that the deals will take off anytime soon.

Investigations by the Daily News this week also suggested that even the equally much-vaunted investment in Zimbabwe by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, remains pie-in-the-sky talk that only occasionally pops up in lapdog State media when propaganda merchants are desperate for a deceptive, feel-good story.

A senior government official said bluntly yesterday that, “We are practically still where we were on all fronts when the deals were announced”, declining to shed further light on what the problems were.

Mugabe signed nine so-called “landmark agreements” with China in August 2014, which were touted by government spin doctors at the time as imminent and massively significant for investment-parched Zimbabwe.

However, there were tell-tale signs last year that all was not well when Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa had to make a follow up visit to Beijing to discuss the multi-billion deals further — as tongues wagged and crisis-weary Zimbabweans questioned whether they were not in fact another ploy by Zanu PF regime to hold on to power by promising “heaven on earth”.

At the same time, economic experts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the deals were being hampered by corruption and policy inconsistencies which had seen Chinese firm Anjin Investments being suspiciously booted out of the Marange diamond fields.

In addition, they also cited Harare’s culture of failing to repay loans, as demonstrated by its huge international debt, as well as Mugabe’s bitterly contested succession — where the Asian economic giant reportedly favours Mnangagwa — as further contributing factors to the delay in moving on the deals.

“I’m very sure nothing is going to happen in terms of these developments because as a country we cannot keep our end of any bargain we make. For example, we have even enraged the Chinese due to our failure to honour debts,” renowned economist John Robertson said.

He added that given what had happened over the years, Zimbabwe desperately needed a leadership change to boost investor confidence.

“There is a strong suggestion that the Russians and Chinese do not want to work with the current government. I am also sure that they will reconsider and inject money into the projects if a more reliable administration gets into power,” he said.

Other economists cite the country’s indigenisation laws and the anxiety spawned by the recently announced measures to introduce bond notes as having further undermined confidence in the country’s ability to attract money.

Economist Issis Mwale said the government was “selling dreams” to the country, to pacify its support base.

“The Chinese are not foolish, neither are they stupid. They are very shrewd businesspeople. So, I am very sure nothing will materialise of the deals unless we pay our international arrears,” she said.

While data gathered from the American Enterprise Institute shows that signed Chinese investments in Zimbabwe grew sharply from $100 million in 2010 to nearly $6 billion by the end of 2015, experts say many of these are unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon given political legitimacy questions dogging the country.

Among the mega-deals that are waiting to be rolled out are China Africa Sunlight Energy Limited’s plans to invest $2,1 billion to develop coal mines and build two 100-megawatt coal-fired power plants.

But another senior government official who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the Chinese were still very keen on doing business with Zimbabwe — in line with their Africa investment focus.

However, he added, China was “wary” of the deadly factional and succession wars ravaging Zanu PF.

“If you look closely you will see that several feasibility studies have been started between China and Zimbabwe, including studies into coal exploration and a 600MW thermal station in Sibugwe, as well as the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare, Harare-Nyamapanda, Harare-Chirundu and Mutare-Harare highways.

“But the Chinese’s borne of contention at the moment is whether their investments would be secure after the old man (Mugabe) is gone, considering the fights (in Zanu PF) and that there is no clear succession plan in place.

“Until we sort this critical issue out, it would be difficult for these projects to take off,” the official said.

And while all this is taking place, China is wrestling with its own problems, including a slowdown in its growth rate, as well as growing scepticism by its businesspeople over whether Zimbabwe is a worthy and reliable recipient of their custom.

Just as is the case with Chinese deals, Zimbabwe’s agreements with the Russians, which were projected to culminate in a $3 billion platinum project in Darwendale — 70 kilometres north-west of Harare — are also now shrouded in mystery.

And cement magnate Dangote, who expressed interest in investing in the country last year, has since started to cautiously skirt the conversation on Zimbabwe.

Comments (17)

Kuzosanganisa madhodhi ne matomato munyaya dzenyu , ndopamunomamira journalism, hahahahahah. You fail to tell it like it is!

ECONOMIST - 3 June 2016

Kuzosanganisa madhodhi ne matomato munyaya dzenyu , ndopamunomamira journalism, hahahahahah. You fail to tell it like it is!

ECONOMIST - 3 June 2016

These were not mega deals after all. This was fiction and mere propaganda. Fiction does not last long, and now you know that it was all hot air. No one in her or his right sense will invest billions in a country being ruled by a 92 years old great grandfather. Even if it is money won in a lottery, at least you would be a little more careful.

Zvichapera - 3 June 2016

They neglected to mention there was no mega money for these mega deals during the negotiations!

Loud Speaker - 3 June 2016

The Chinese didn't wake up with the second largest economy in the world by being stupid and throwing good money after bad. They are too clever for this regime, ED and the panty stealer are happy to take a few million in kickbacks and be entertained by a bit of oriental on the side and deprive Zimbabweans of Billions in lost revenues and jobs.

Galore 123 - 3 June 2016

@dailynews,mega dealsby their nature take time to negotiate and equally longer time to take off as all legal bottlenecks have to been ironed out etc

truth - 3 June 2016

Why would our great all weather friends invest a cent in this country when our great patriotic leaders steal $15 billion in diamonds and fail to invest it back in the beloved country...

BTW - 3 June 2016

Zanu PF has resisted regime change for a long time but this is now set to change because the economic meltdown will force the regime to change. It is the economy stupid!

Patrick Guramatunhu - 3 June 2016

no one trusts rwavhi Mugabe with its coterie of thieves.

josphat mugadzaweta - 3 June 2016

No sane country, not China, Russia or anyone else would stick their necks out and invest a single cent in this country given the level of political and economic instability that prevails. In any event surely the people by now realize that the promises of job creation and economic progress are merely empty election promises designed to catch votes from the innocent and unsuspecting people who just fail to see reality. Sadly, nearly all the sub Saharan countries face similar woes encouraging more people to flee the continent and head for safer and more reliable pastures in Europe, the land of our former colonial masters?

Mbewa - 4 June 2016

you hear a grown up man saying mugabe cannot be succeded he should die in office the you wonder and question normality of that individual who is supposed to be the voice of the poor.The only being who cannot be succeeded is God.

simba - 4 June 2016

It may not be well known to those who were still growing in the 1980s that Mugabe travelled extensively soon after inauguration in 1980. I am one of those who helped Mugabe and his Zanu PF to start ruining this country in 1980 by voting for them. In all his excursions, he was said to be accompanied by a high powered delegation to secure deals likely to cause economic development for the young democracy. We, (my contemporaries and I) were in support of these trips in anticipation of long term fruition of the deals but not for long before we began to question the authenticity of the deals. They had become too numerous and looking back, we failed to notice any results from previously signed deals and true, as "truth" says above, 'mega deals take long to take off,' consider deals signed in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s. Surely many of them should have matured into large scale vibrant profit making activities employing thousands of the country's active sections of the population. It is preposterous for an individual boasting full sized mature skull contents to defend Mugabe and his gang today as if all he has done so far is commendable when in reality, Mugabe has done nothing for Zimbabweans so far. Instead, Mugabe has ruined the country, literally, and this is clearly evidenced by the closure of industries left running by Smith and flight of able bodied women and men. Why have able bodied young people dispersed world wide when in the colonial times, Rhodesia was the destination for jobs by many people of neighbouring countries? Why are there no independent radio and TV stations in Zimbabwe yet there are countless radio stations in some countries where there is no mineral wealth? The last time I was in Malawi there were 18 privately owned and run radio stations and that is when I began to believe that is was not such a big deal owning and running a radio station after all.

Yeoman Thomas - 4 June 2016

I still remember a young man from Mbare beyong interviewed during last election time. He said tamirira Zim-Asset yatakaporomiswa naPresident. Kuzoti chembere dzetansi pa airport vachitambira hombarume yakange yanovhima kumaChina - waifunga kuti nhamo yedu yazopera zvino. Zvese kutonhora kuti nho-o kunge mbodza yesadza. Ukavavhunza nhasi uno Gushungo vanokuti pfutseki mhani, muri kundinetsa, regaindizvizororere ini ha-a.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 4 June 2016

the term 'mega deal' belongs to a special class of propaganda grammar & vocabulary that enjoy usage in zanu circles only. i have neva came accross such a term in my other readings! zanu also have pple who are gullible & superstitious to the extent of inviting unintrested foreigners like dangote to thronging rhotina mavhunga. they swallow anything in the hope of the proverbial ''rich pickings'' much to the expense of the kantry and now they kant fynd $15b. whatz mega about that; they are mega losses in fact!

SaManyika Chaiye - 4 June 2016

@samanyika,actually yu shonas are 'mega looters'

jojo - 4 June 2016

and MEGA ABDUCTORS!!!

jojo - 4 June 2016

as long as yu have pledged & accepted to swallow the ''shona'' hook line & sinker that was being thrown to you in bait for nearly 40yrs by rhobhati, you are going to be maimed by rhobhati even from you RSA farm compound hideout @jojo. as long as you pay homage to the zanu alter spattered with human blood, looting will continue to be a daily routine much to yo chagrin. remove yo tribal blinkers & drop the diversionist goggles that confuse no one else except the very topsy-turvy self that you are!

SaManyika Chaiye - 6 June 2016

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