Chinese deals flounder, as shoddy goods collapse

HARARE - An isolated Zimbabwe government, grappling with a deep economic crisis, has taken its begging bowl to China to plead for more desperately needed foreign direct investment (FDI).
A ministerial delegation led by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi returned on Tuesday from a wee

klong “Joint Commission Meting” with Chinese government and industry officials in Beijing.
The delegation, that also comprised Finance minister Hebert Murerwa and Economic Development minister Rugare Gumbo, followed up on a couple of deals that the Chinese are now hesitant to undertake due to the breakdown of property rights in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean heard that in Beijing, the government officials met with representatives of the China Northern Railways, which has been hesitant to honour a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed to rehabilitate and increase the capacity of the crisis-torn National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
Under this deal, clinched by Vice President Joice Mujuru during her visit to Beijing earlier this year, the Chinese railway utility had promised to supply 10 locomotives, 64 passenger coaches and eight commuter trains but nothing has been forthcoming.
Diplomatic sources said the Chinese were now weary of brining in big investment into Zimbabwe because of government’s flagrant abuse of property rights.
Some of the MOUs that government has signed with the Chinese under its much-vaunted Look East policy include the development of power plants and mines with Chinese companies ELE Resources and the China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Company. This deal, in which the Chinese have promised to develop a thermal power station in the Zambezi Valley, has been on the cards for months but there is no progress on the ground.
The ministerial delegation was also said to have seen officials at CATIC, who supplied the three problematic MA60 commuter planes to Air Zimbabwe. The short lifespan of the planes has been fraught with breakdowns and operational nightmares.
The Airforce has also taken delivery of K8 trainer planes while the scanners acquired from the Chinese for quasi-government tax collector ZIMRA have suffered intermittent breakdowns.
Tractors bought by the Harare City Council from China have broken down totally in only eight months.
The ruling party reacted angrily to press reports that the Politburo had expressed its misgivings about sub-standard goods coming into Zimbabwe from China.
In a rare interview with Chinese news wire service Xinhua, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe was seeking more economic co-operation with China because it did not come with political strings attached, unlike that from the West, which he said he found unacceptable.
“We have nothing to lose (in doing business with the Chinese) but our imperialist chains,” Mugabe was quoted as saying. He is expected to attend the Africa-China Summit next week in Beijing, which is to discuss China’s growing foothold in Africa. – Own correspondent

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