Zimbabwe and China in Massive Investment Drive

Zimbabwe's capital Harare

China is set to invest massively in Zimbabwe’s water, power, and transport infrastructure, following the recent visit to Beijing by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and government ministers, Gorden Moyo and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

During the trip the premier said Zimbabwe was in need of assistance in “embarking on an aggressive programme of infrastructure rehabilitation”.

Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said Chinese capital and expertise were essential in the construction of hydro-electric projects to boost Zimbabwe’s power generation capacities, including solving Matabeleland’s perennial water problems.

“Sino-Hydro (a Chinese company) will be coming to look at Takanda dam near Nyamapanda, with a view to constructing a hydro-electric project to produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity,” said Nkomo. “Zimbabwe has more than 200 large dams and there is the potential to construct hydro-electric schemes to boost our electricity output.”

Nkomo also said he had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese government, which would see a Chinese company coming to engage in a variety of projects including irrigation.

He added he held a fruitful meeting with Chinese Water Resources minister Chen Lei, who invited him back to China in September, where they would conclude another MoU to assist Zimbabwe through capacity-building programmes.

Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Gorden Moyo said they met various Chinese state enterprises (SEPS), including China Machinery and Engineering Corporation, Sino-Sure (financial services) and Hydro-Sino currently undertaking power-generation activities with the Zambian government at Kariba North.

“The strength of China is in its well-managed and well-resourced SEPS,” said Moyo. “We went there to understand their model as they are also coming from a background where SEPS were loss-making, poorly managed and infested by corruption. We went there to understand how they transformed these SEPS to technological success.”

He said they also discussed how Zimbabwean SEPS could work closely with their Chinese counterparts to achieve re-capitalisation through joint-ventures, as well as assistance to re-capitalise Zimbabwe’s SEPS to enable them to fulfil their potential of contributing to at least 50% of GDP, employment and services.

China is projected to become the world’s biggest economy by 2020. Tsvangirai’s visit – which has irked Zanu PF officials who consider Beijing their exclusive ally in Zimbabwe – suggests China is looking beyond Mugabe’s rule. The Chinese have always been considered close allies of Zanu PF since the liberation struggle. However, Tsvangirai’s visit at the invitation of the Chinese government has given the distinct impression that he could form the next government.

In his speech at the Sino-African Trade in Services and Investment Forum in Beijing on May 29, Tsvangirai assured the Chinese investors of government protection but stressed the importance of investments that gave maximum benefit to Zimbabweans.