By David Mwanza
The Covid-19 pandemic was fast transforming the time tested Zimbabwe-China relationship into a silver bullet, a senior Chinese diplomat has said.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Guo Shaochun, made the remarks during China's Hebei province’s donation of a consignment of medical supplies to Mashonaland West Province to help fight the spread of Covid-19.
The medical supplies were handed over to the Minister of State for Mashonaland West Province, Cde Mary Mliswa, by Amb Shaochun at a ceremony held in Harare this Wednesday morning.
Amb Shaochun’s strong statement comes barely a fortnight after the United States of America singled out Zimbabwe, China, Iran and Russia as its adversaries.
“Perhaps the Covid-19 is tough, but united, we shall overcome. There is a long-live friendship between China and Zimbabwe. Facing such a new virus, it is believed that the time-tested Zimbabwe relationship would become a silver bullet. We should stand together and join hands to contain the spread of the virus, and protect the health and well-being of our people,” Amb Shaochun said.
He added: “China will never forget friends as great distance will never separate us. The Chinese government and business have done our best to help Zimbabwe be better prepared to fight against Covid-19 since the virus was detected in Zimbabwe.”
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured several African countries with a bail out to cushion them from the impact of Covid-19. During his address during last Wednesday’s Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19, that was co-chaired by President Jinping and Senegalese President Macky Sall, the incoming chairperson of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Jinping announced that “China will forgive the interest-free loans of relevant African countries due to China by the end of 2020.”
He added: “Within the FOCAC framework, China will cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020.”
“For those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension, to help them tide over the current difficulty.”
President Jinping also encouraged Chinese financial institutions to “respond to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees. China will work with other members of the G20 to implement the DSSI and, on that basis, urge the G20 to extend debt service suspension still further for countries concerned, including those in Africa.”
The Zim-Sino relations strengthened by the birth of the New Dispensation under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa continue to bear fruits. To date, a massive six-storey parliamentary building is being built in Mt Hampden through a US$100 million China Aid free grant. The building comprise of a 1000-seater banquet room, a 350-seater House of Assembly Chamber and a 350-seater Senate chamber.
China Aid Zimbabwe in partnership with the District Development Fund (DDF) is rolling out a multi-million-dollar programme targeting to drill 500 boreholes in three provinces namely, Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South.
Additionally, China is funding the upgrade of the expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport at a tune of US$153 million, whose works are now at an advanced stage with the construction of one wing of the terminal building almost complete.