CHINESE companies assigned to a number of projects in the country are abandoning the sites because of non-payment, putting the “Look East” policy in doubt.
Among the Six Chinese firms are China International Water and Electric Co
rporation (Ciwec), contracted to clear and install irrigation facilities at the vast Nuanetsi ranch; China’s National Aero-Technologies Import and Export Corporation; and China North Industries Corporation tasked to finance multi-billion dollar renovation projects at Zesa Holdings and Hwange Colliery Company.
The other three firms were assigned to undertaking the dualisation of the Harare-Bulawayo and Harare-Masvingo highways as well as the construction of the Southern Africa Regional Police Chiefs Conference centre in Harare.
They have now frozen operations at the sites as they await payment.
Ciwec, contracted to clear 100 000 hectares of land for irrigation, has deserted the site after clearing less than 5 000 hectares. The company is said to be owed more than
$59 billion for work already done.
Sources privy to the developments said China’s relations with Zimbabwe, which include diplomatic support, trade deals and close military ties, could be under strain as a result of government’s failure to service its debts.
“The current economic situation in the country has made it impossible for it to honour its debts,” a source said.
“The Chinese have been hit the hardest since they are carrying out a number of projects in Zimbabwe.
“Chinese banks have supported Zimbabwe’s small to medium enterprises,” the source said. Industries that have received funds include textile, soap, tile and fibre glass manufacturing. — Staff Writer.