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Foreign Affairs Minister Shava off to China for official visit

By UK Correspondent

ZIMBABWE’S Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava is off to China for an official visit at the invitation of his counterpart, Beijing officials confirmed Friday.

According to a statement by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Mao Ning, Shava will be in Beijing from May 27 to June 2.

Shava was invited by his counterpart Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

China has, over the years, become a key political and economic backer for Zimbabwe since the Harare government was forced to adopt a so-called Look East policy after falling out with the West over its controversial land reforms, governance concerns as well as electoral and rights abuses.

The country was also blacklisted by major international financiers such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and members of the Paris Club nearly two decades ago after it defaulted on loans.


Key projects supported by Beijing include the new Parliament building, the upgrades to the Victoria Falls and Robert Mugabe International airports, as well as rehabilitation of power generation plants.

However the China pivot has come at a cost for Zimbabwe, with finance minister Prof Mthuli Ncube was last year forced to reveal to Parliament the country’s obligations to China stood at US$2.7 billion.

The treasury chief’s statement however, sparked controversy after it emerged that the country’s platinum reserves worth billions of dollars at today’s prices had been used as collateral for a US$200 million loan.

Commenting on the deal, opposition legislator and former finance minister Tendai Biti said; “So, Government of Zimbabwe borrowed US$200m from China to purchase farm mechanisation equipment but you said this loan was collateralised by 26m ounces of platinum.

“If you do rough mathematics, assuming the price of platinum for an ounce is US$2000, you are talking of US$52b for the 26m ounces.

“How is it possible that the Government can borrow US$200m from China and give an asset which in gross terms is US$52 billion?”

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