Beware Chinese deals: diplomat

Zimbabwe must weigh advantages accruing from its business deals with the Chinese as some of them are likely to cost Harare its sovereignty, warns a senior Dutch government official, Pim Kraan.

Pim Kraan told The Zimbabwean that one such project was the recent Beijing

$319 million loan for the Kariba Power Station. There were long-term disadvantages which might come out of such a deal. "The loan would bond Zimbabwe to Chinese for the 20 year repayment period. This literally means Zimbabwe would be bonded to the lending partner for the period."

The Kariba project under which two 150 megawatt power units would be built, would be completed in four years. Although he benefits were relatively short-term, there was a need for caution and care while negotiating some deals.

Kraan added that Zimbabwe must audit its mineral resources and take sound economic judgements before committing itself to agreements.

Businessman Caleb Dengu supported Kraan, saying Zimbabwe was 'blindly'

getting into unsustainable international agreements because the deals were negotiated by wrong people. He said the country was not attracting direct investment but investor loans which were biased against Zimbabwe.

"It is unfortunate that important international deals were being negotiated by non-business minded civil servants and politicians lacking the capacity to do so," said Dengu. But the Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, said he strongly disagreed with that view.

"The energy deficit has hamstrung the growth of our economy," he argued.

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