Such an investment would have brought relief to the newspaper industry which is importing newsprint following the closure of the sole local provider, Mutare Board and Paper Mills.
Joseph Kanyekanye, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president said China Development Fund wanted to invest US$110 million in the project.
“What they (China Development Fund) require for that project to go through is assurance from the state that they will not be invasions of forest plantations,” Kanyekanye said.
“They came here, I went around with them myself; I tried to seek those assurances myself on their behalf. I failed to secure that.”
He said government must make written undertakings that there will not be invasions in forest plantations owned by private and state- owned companies.
“Government must make a commitment that they will remove everyone who is on those plantations,” the CZI boss said.
The frustration of the Chinese investor is a slap in the face of government’s efforts to lure investment into the country to help rebuild the economy.
The economy is expected to achieve growth for the third successive year in 2011 after a decade of recession.
Investment has been identified as an engine to drive the growth targets.
According to the Medium Term Plan unveiled two weeks ago, government wants investment to contribute 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015 from the current 4%.
Based on the need to attract foreign investment, government has simplified procedures for investors interested in Zimbabwe through the one-stop shop.
The failure to provide assurance to the Chinese investors is also a slap in the face of government’s “Look East” policy adopted seven years ago.
Zimbabwe “looked East” after Western countries tightened their screws on the country citing human rights and democracy deficiencies.
China is spreading its tentacles across the continent with its governance neutral approach in its bid to get resources to feed its expanding economy.
Kanyekanye believes if the assurance is there, the proposed pulp and paper project in Manicaland would start.
“I know them, I know where they are. We can bring them.”