Zim defaults on Chinese loan

Zimbabwe has defaulted on a $200 million Chinese loan used to procure farming equipment for farmers.

In her latest report, Auditor General Mildred Chiri said the Agriculture, Engineering and Mechanisation project headed by Joseph Made was at the centre of the transactions. “The Irrigation department issued 107 transformers and 440 pumps to various farmers throughout the country on a cost recovery basis,” she said.“The value of the equipment was not disclosed to the farmers and at the time of the audit no steps had been taken to recover the money from the farmers as the amount was not established.

“The government was, however, indebted to the Chinese government for $200 million which was supposed to be repaid from recoveries from the farmers.” The government’s farm mechanisation scheme, which was established to help beneficiaries of the land reform programme, is also blamed for the billion-dollar debt.In a statement last November, RBZ governor Gideon Gono said farmers owed the apex bank $198 million after failing to pay for equipment provided by the bank under the scheme.

Zimbabwe has also failed to pay interest on a Chinese loan advanced to the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company in 1997 and this has blocked the release of a $145 million China Import and Export Bank facility for Harare city council.

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