The former Zimbabwe envoy to China told The Standard in an exclusive interview that some of the trumpeted mega deals with the Asian giant had not come into fruition because of sabotage.
Mutsvangwa spoke as Chinese President Xi Jinping left Harare for South Africa on Wednesday after signing another round of deals with Mugabe during a day-long State visit.
The outspoken minister said had it not been for the resistance, Zimbabwe would be one of the leading countries in terms of China-sponsored investments.
“The president has been very forward looking with the Look East policy and it has actually taken some time before his team could catch up with him,” Mutsvangwa said.
“There was that time when others were not as embracive of the Look East policy in his Cabinet, in his political team.
“They took longer to learn but their president has always been on cue.
“The guy [president] is a very intelligent man and he started this relationship with China in 1962 and it has never failed him in military terms, political terms, diplomatic terms and now China is an economic giant and there is no way it could fail him.”
Mugabe told a State banquet held in Xi’s honour on Tuesday that those who chastised his regime for its Look East policy were now being made to eat humble pie. He said the whole world was now looking to China for cash.
Mutsvangwa claimed Mugabe had experience in international relations, hence his push for friendship with China.
“Mugabe has a lot of experience and that experience has not been easily shared by some of his colleagues because they had a different historical experience,” he said.
“There was foot dragging because the Look East policy was launched in 2002 but look at what other African countries have done with China, for example South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique; they have done well, so it was uncharacteristic that Zimbabwe is the one that has been lagging.”
He said Zimbabwe was now better poised to take advantage of its close ties with China.
“We are really on a new chapter and Zimbabwe is on the verge of a take-off and China has been the main driver of FDI in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We have an educated labour force and the Chinese companies will not have a problem working here.”
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment.
Mutsvangwa has been vocal in opposing Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s overtures towards Western financiers, saying the country should stick to Asian countries.
Chinamasa said he was open-minded and would embrace advice that could help turn around the economy.
“As you know, I have an open mind when it comes to the turnaround of our economy,” Chinamasa told The Standard.
“I have been engaging all stakeholders from the street, CZI [Confederation of Zimbabwe Indusries], Chamber of Mines because I thrive on good ideas and that is what the economy requires.
“We are also very clear as to what needs to be done to go forward in order to recover our economy.
“First and foremost, they prioritise power, we cannot achieve economic recovery and take off unless we address the infrastructure gap, primarily in the energy sector.
“You cannot run mines, smelting plants agriculture, irrigation unless if we have uninterrupted power supply, which is why all our efforts have been devoted towards investment in energy, but again you need to understand that those investments take time.”
Zimbabweans are yet to see benefits of the so-called mega deals Mugabe signed with Xi during a visit to China last year.