China, Angola Pump S$8 Billion Into Zimbabwe Economy
Days after Robert Mugabe attended the China-Africa Summit in Egypt (above, Mugabe is second from right as you look at the picture), a Chinese/Angola joint Venture has signed a US$8 billion investment deal with Zimbabwe. The MDC-T and their ministers have been deliberately left out of the negotiations and the signing ceremony, which was inexplicably presided over by Mugabe's Chief Secretary and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 19 November 2009
A Chinese/Angolan joint venture company has signed a largely mineral and precious stone deal with the Zimbabwe government worth US$8 billion.
The US$8 billion comprises of five separate "strategic cooperation Agreements", according to the Zimbabwe government. The joint venture company, called Sonangol, will invest in gold and platinum refining, oil and gas exploration, fuel procurement and distribution, and housing development.
It has also been announced that a "significant" amount of the US$8 billion is already in the hands of Zimbabwean banks.
China Sonangol chairman, Manuel Vicente, says "Zimbabwe is a land of opportunities with great potential."
Gideon Gono, who attended the signing ceremony (which largely excluded all MDC Ministers in Government), together with Mugabe's Chief Secretary, Misheck Sibanda, was giddy with excitement:
"This deal represents the most significant inward investment inflow in Zimbabwe. This comes at a time when the country is being ridiculed left, right and centre.
"The various banking and financial institutions that are handling this deal can’t believe the huge inflows that have come in already," said Gono, the Governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank and one of the most reviled figures in Zimbabwe.
There have been fears that the involvement of the Chinese in African economies is exploitative. The fact that the MDC has been excluded from this huge deal, even though they are part of the current coalition, also raises fears about the details of the arrangement.
Who are the local partners? Are any government ministers amongst the local partners? What exactly are the Chinese and Angolans being given in return for this US$8 billion. Transparency is wanting on this deal and it needs to be examined to ensure that there are no hidden bombs in it. The problem is that there appears to be no one involved on the oversight side.
There are other disturbing questions:
Why is the Chief Secretary to the Cabinet presiding over the signing ceremony? Have the Ministers of Trade, International Cooperation and Finance died? It is certainly very irregular and let us hope that those who are in parliament will start asking pertinent questions very soon in order to get the bottom of this.
The investment is welcome, make no doubt about it. And even the boast by Mugabe's Chief Secretary that this is a direct result of Mugabe's "Look East" Policy is fair comment, but the deal must be put out in the open in detail so that Zimbabweans can satisfy themselves that we have not sold our entire family jewels for this US$8 billion and to also ensure that there are no cabinet Ministers and ZANU PF people improperly benefiting from this.