Chinese firms should take full advantage of the upgrading of relations between Harare and Beijing to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to invest in Zimbabwe where their investments will be given preferential treatment, President Mnangagwa has said.

He said Zimbabwe had several opportunities cutting across all sectors of the economy that the Chinese could exploit. Addressing a high-powered Chinese business delegation which is in the country to explore investment opportunities at his Munhumutapa Office in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said from the Zimbabwean side, Government was ready to facilitate the investments.

To show the seriousness he attached to the meeting with the Chinese delegation, President Mnangagwa attended the meeting with five Cabinet Ministers who included Professor Mthuli Ncube (Finance and Economic Development), Perrance Shiri (Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement), Winston Chitando (Mines and Mining Development), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Industry and Commerce) and Dr Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) and Reserve Bank Governor, Dr John Mangudya.

“Most importantly, during my last visit to the People’s Republic of China His Excellency the President Xi Jinping upgraded our relations to Strategic Comprehensive Partnership with Zimbabwe which means that we give first preferential treatment to Chinese companies when investing Zimbabwe,” said President Mnangagwa.

“I was just telling your head of delegation and chairman (Mr Zhang Huarong) that most Western embassies and countries always say in Zimbabwe there are more investments from China. We don’t want that to be mere talk. It must be material talk backed by evidence of actual investment in this country and you are here — you carry that responsibility.

“My counterpart President Xi Jinping and I, agreed that we must cooperate but our vision can only actualise if you actually take heed of your President and if my ministers who are on this side also take heed of what I say. I can assure you that on my side I know how to whip. I am happy I can point to some of the projects which have come from China in terms of investment. We have the Kariba South extension which has given us 300 megawatts which is now on the national grid.

“We also have the Victoria Falls International Airport which can now take any size of aircraft. Currently we are having Hwange Thermal Station plant 7 and 8, a $1,3 billion project, that is under construction now. In my discussion with President Xi Jinping, he said this (project) will go ahead immediately and I will order that money is made available and that money has been made available.

“So far we have drawn down in excess of US$300 million. We have Harare International Airport and it’s now under construction. We have a grant from China. We are building a new city, the Parliament and the executive in Mt Hampden near Harare. We also have the Defence University completed some three years ago for strategic studies. Those are already visible projects that China has done here in Zimbabwe but there is still more that you can do. In my discussion with your leader we also discussed the manufacturing sector.”

President Mnangagwa said Government was carrying out both political and economic reforms to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country. Said the President:

“Currently, under the new dispensation we are carrying out both political and economic reforms which your country carried 40 years ago. Because we are very close Zimbabwe need not make mistakes which you made in the process of reforms. We need to get the best out of your reforms – leap frog and develop the rest of the developing countries in our region.

“And to achieve this goal of developing our country we are committed to our programme. Economically, we have been carrying reforms and also have a stable country, we are a united State. There are so many projects across the board, we still need energy, it could be solar, it thermal, hydro – we need energy in this country the projection that we have is that in another six years from now we need up to 4 000 megawatts because we believe that our economy is going to grow. There are also easy and low hanging fruits like beef, you can begin a beef project in your market. We can also immediately deal with the question of the manufacturing of cigarettes.

“We grow a lot of tobacco here but we don’t have the capacity to process the tobacco. We sell it to you raw. We also want it beneficiated in the country. In the area of agriculture, we can either grow for your market or you come and grow for your markets things like soya beans, sorghum, fruits and flowers. We have plenty of land and water, what we don’t have is the capital and expertise. That area is open. We grow cotton for textiles. We export raw cotton, 77 percent of the cotton that we grow is exported raw, we are only able to use 30 percent in our economy. That is another area where you can come in, textile manufacturing.”

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was the gateway to the entire African market and the Chinese should take full advantage of that. He said Zimbabwe also boasts of a highest literacy rate in Africa which makes a good market with literate labour force.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting Mr Zhang said: “I am very grateful from the high level reception from the President of this country. Our delegation consists of very important enterprises back in China. I can see a very strong commitment from this Government. Zimbabwe is very beautiful country and has very good natural resources and infrastructural bases. Zimbabwe has been a very good friend of China for a long time and I have to say a lot of Chinese business people actually looking forward to the development of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is country with great potential for development.