ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe has described Chinese President Xi Jinping’s forthcoming visit this December as of great significance to Zimbabwe.
Xi’s trip will mark the second time that a Chinese state leader has visited the country since the establishment of diplomatic ties with one another.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the China-Zimbabwe diplomatic relations.
Mugabe is on-record as saying China was Zimbabwe’s greatest friend.
We actually await the visit with very great interest, and when he visits us we shall be discussing some of the projects and programs we would want China to assist us in undertaking.
But it’s more than the visit of the Chinese head of state – that is very important to us, yes. We’ll discuss programs of cooperation, said Mugabe.
The Chinese President is due to visit Zimbabwe on December 1st and 2nd.
After that, President Xi is also expected to attend the sixth ministerial meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in South Africa.
Xi’s planned visit to Harare was first revealed by former Chinese envoy to Zimbabwe Lin Lin who said at the end of his mission that his boss was invited by Mugabe.
Early this year, the two leaders met in Indonesia but little detail emerged on progress made in implementing the mega deals Mugabe claimed to have clinched in Beijing last year.
The meeting came after Mugabe travelled to China in August 2014, desperate for financial aid and investment to rescue a sinking economy just one year after he was re-elected on a promise to create two million new jobs in a country where unemployment is said to be more than 80 percent.
State media then claimed that Mugabe concluded nine mega deals which would see China financing multi-billion dollar infrastructural development programmes in roads, energy, railways, telecoms and agriculture.
But more than a year later the projects have yet to take off.
But in July, ZESA signed a $1.1 billion agreement with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to build a 600-megawatt thermal power plant, a move government said was going to ease power cuts in the country.
In September, Beijing sent a state insurance company representative to assess Zimbabwe’s bankability before China commits to the so-called mega deals.
Wang Yi, Chairperson of the insurance company, the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure) spent five days in Zimbabwe.
He held a closed meeting with finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in which he said they covered a number of loan facilities which he said fall under the mega deals.
The impending December visit also comes after Mugabe recently attended the India-Africa summit which, according to reports, is New Delhi’s effort to counter Africa’s progress in Africa.
Both China and India are developing Asian giants seen as quietly harbouring ambitions to dominate the global economy in the long run.