China commits to help Zim

HARARE - China is willing to help Zimbabwe revive its economy through company investments, infrastructure development and bilateral cooperation, the Asian giant’s envoy has said.

China’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Huang Ping, on Wednesday told delegates attending the “Chinese New Year 2017” reception that his embassy will continue to promote steady and sound growth of China-Zimbabwe relations and deepen practical cooperation between the two countries.

“In Chinese zodiac, the year of 2017 is the Year of Rooster. In Chinese culture, rooster stands for dawn, sun and brightness in our culture. We hope and believe that the Year of Rooster will see Zimbabwe shake off darkness, move beyond the temporary challenges and embrace a brighter future,” he said.

This comes as Zimbabwe’s economy, which was once a beacon on the continent, and came only second to South Africa’s in the southern African region, is expected to register negative economic growth of 2,5 percent this year, from a negative 0,3 percent in 2016 as projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF forecast will see the southern African country, whose gross domestic product has since slipped to eleventh position, only bigger than that of Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Mauritius, recording its second gross domestic product contraction since 2008, when the economy shrank by 16,5 percent at the height of a hyperinflation crisis.

Zimbabwe’s economy grew by an average 8,3 percent between 2009 and 2012 after dollarisation and under a power-sharing government set up by long-ruling President Robert Mugabe and the opposition.

However, growth started tapering off after Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s re-election in a 2013 vote disputed by the opposition.

Industry is in worse shape, companies have been closing or laying off workers at a faster rate than expected.

This has resulted in more than 90 percent of Zimbabweans currently without formal jobs. But this has equally affected government, whose revenue base has dwindled, eroded largely by a shrinking economy battered by company closures and increased job losses.

The majority of companies still in operation are on the verge of collapse due to lack of cheap capital, high labour costs and acute power and water shortages among other things.

Ping said he was confident that with the concerted efforts between the two countries’ governments, Zimbabwe and China will embrace an even brighter future.

“The Kariba South Hydropower Station Expansion Project is going smoothly, and is expected to be completed in early 2018,” he said.

This was after China also helped Zimbabwe with the construction and upgrade of the new Victoria Falls International Airport.

Ping noted that the emerging Asian economic giant donated about 19 700 metric tonnes of rice and 10 000 tonnes of fertilizer to Zimbabwe to cope with food shortage and boost agricultural development.

In 2016, China also drilled 184 boreholes out of 300 boreholes to help Zimbabwe cope with drought.

“The Lupane Friendship Primary School donated by China has been handed over to Zimbabwe, and the China-Zimbabwe Friendship High School in Hatcliff is under construction now,” the envoy added.

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