PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe returns from China today after a week in the Asian nation on a state visit to scrounge for a bail-out to save Zimbabwe’s faltering economy from total collapse.
BY OUR STAFF
After beating MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in last year’s controversial elections, Mugabe has failed to score on the economy, which has seen massive company closures and widespread poverty.
Over 4 000 employees have lost their jobs in the first half of the year amid fears that more casualties would be recorded by the end of the year.
Mugabe’s trip to Asia was expected to bring the required bail-out needed to jump-start the economy. However, Mugabe returns home with various memoranda of understanding in which Beijing agreed to fund viable infrastructural projects.
The trip came amid reports the country was looking for a US$4 billion relief from the giant Asian nation.
But the Chinese did not change its bail out conditions for its all-weather friend, stating they would only fund viable projects.
However, deputy minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Supa Mandiwanzira said Mugabe’s trip had been successful.
“He went to China to attract investments in infrastructure, the key enablers of the economy,” he said at the inaugural media mining awards at a local hotel on Friday.
“If the President signed deals on power, he has been more than successful.”
Mandiwanzira said an investment in power would alleviate the crisis as the generation capacity which is at about 1 300MW was below the demand which averages 2 100MW.
Zimbabwe adopted the Look East policy in 2004 after the West tightened the screws on the country over human rights abuses.
China has been in good books with African countries due to its neutral approach on governance issues as it seeks markets for its products.
Trade volumes between Zimbabwe and China reached US$1,1 billion last year up from US$562 million in 2010.
Former Chinese economic and commercial counsellor Han Bing said in May that the Export-Import Bank of China granted US$1 billion of loans to the country for infrastructure projects such as the Victoria Falls Airport expansion, Kariba South Power Station, Harare water and NetOne projects.
Bing said Chinese investment to Zimbabwe had been on the increase since 2010 where it stood at US$33,8 million before rising to US$460 million in 2011 and over $600 million in 2013.
“So in these three years, especially in 2011 and 2013, Zimbabwe ranked number one in the whole of Africa in respect of attracting Chinese investments,” he said.
But the Chinese have not invested in critical sectors, targeting soft ones such as retail which is mainly reserved for Zimbabweans.