Farirai Machivenyika and Africa Moyo
Zimbabwe and China are set to deepen their relations next week when that country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi arrives in Harare as part of a five-nation, six-day trip to the continent.
Harare and Beijing enjoy cordial relations, which hit an all-time high following the assumption of office by President Mnangagwa in 2017.
Mr Wang’s visit is a continuation of a tradition that began in 1991 where the Asian country’s Foreign Affairs Minister visits African nations on his first overseas trip of the year.
Spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Mr Geng Shuang on Thursday said Mr Wang will visit Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe at the invitation of his counterparts in the respective countries.
Mr Geng said this during his regular Press briefing in China.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac).
It is an important year to implement the outcomes of the 2018 Focac Summit held in Beijing.
“State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang’s visit this time will be the 30th consecutive year. The continuation of this fine tradition once again speaks volumes about the high priority China consistently attaches to developing its ties with Africa as well as ever stronger China-Africa friendship.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and is an important year to implement the outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit. State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s upcoming visit will follow President Xi Jinping’s ideal of upholding the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and pursuing the greater good and shared interests to strengthen communication and complementarity with the African countries, implement the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and African leaders and jointly follow through on the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit with a view to advancing China-Africa BRI cooperation, building on China-Africa traditional friendship and moving forward the bilateral ties between China and relevant African countries and China-Africa relations as a whole,” said Mr Geng.
At the last Focac Summit held in Beijing in 2018, President Xi extended an unconditional US$60 billion in loans and aid to Africa until 2021.
The money includes US$15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, US$20 billion in credit lines and a US$10 billion special fund for development financing.
Chinese companies were also encouraged to invest at least US$10 billion in Africa over the next three years.
In Zimbabwe, China has provided US$1,1 billion for Hwange 7 and 8 expansion programme that will add 600MW to the national grid, US$153 million for the expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and a grant US$96 million for the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden.
Former Zimbabwe Ambassador to China, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said the visit by Mr Wang underscores the importance that Beijing places on its relations with Harare.
“The visit to Africa is traditionally the yearly maiden trip of the Chinese Foreign Minister. It has always been religiously executed,” he said.
“It is the signature indicator of the high premium Beijing places to its relations with Africa, the mother continent of humankind. This year, that pride of honour is being bestowed upon Zimbabwe amongst the 54 African nations.
“This reflects the positively evolving nature of the strategic and comprehensive chapter of the Zimbabwe-China relations as announced by both Presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Xi Jinping.”
Ambassador Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe, which is starved of fresh development capital due to ruinous sanctions imposed by the United States under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), should take advantage of its relations with China to grow the economy.
“Zimbabwe must unlock its breath-taking potential that emanates from its bountiful natural resource endowments, its pedigree human development index, its tight social organisation, its remarkable national maturity and its visionary political leadership under the Second Republic of President Mnangagwa.
“Modern China has morphed into the second largest global economy in a short four decades. I just came back from Beijing with a large-scale delegation of Zimbabwe mining magnates and infrastructure executives. I am awed.
“The maiden 2020 visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi forebodes so much in Harare-Beijing bilateral relations at this momentous hour of shared developmental endeavours,” he said.
China also enjoys cordial relations with Egypt, with the two countries taking their comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels in 2018, after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi visited Beijing for the 2018 Beijing Summit of Focac.
It was his fifth visit to China since assuming office in 2014.