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THE Chinese government is ready to provide a package to fund the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), the economic blueprint to steer economic revival over the next four years.Funding has been a major hindrance to the implementation of the progressive policy that was crafted to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation propelled by the judicious exploitation of the country’s abundant human and natural resources.

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin yesterday said discussions were underway between Harare and Beijing on the provision of a financial package to fund Zim-Asset.

Zimbabwe needs at least US$10 billion to successfully implement the economic blueprint spanning over five years, 2013 to 2018.

Ambassador Lin said his country was ready to provide lines of credit to that effect and the Chinese embassy in Harare was also facilitating a State visit by President Mugabe to China during the second half of this year.

If the discussions succeed, Zimbabwe would securitise the loan using its vast mineral resources.

Ambassador Lin was responding to questions from stakeholders attending a two day conference organised by the Sapes Trust in Harare on the democratisation process and reinforcing re-engagement with the international community.

“My Government is committed to give our support to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery,” said Ambassador Lin. “What I can say now is that the two sides are carrying out discussions on lines of credit provided by Chinese financial institutions as proposed by Zimbabwean side using your minerals as kind of security.

“We are looking forward to reach a kind of an agreement on that issue and I hope sometime this year.”

Ambassador Lin reiterated his country’s commitment to its bilateral relationship with Zimbabwe.

He said the omission of Zimbabwe on the itenary of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang who is on a four nation tour of Africa, did not mean that relations between the two countries were not sound.

In any case, Ambassador Lin said, the Chinese embassy in Harare was planning a State visit by President Mugabe to China this year.

“I have to say the Chinese leaders have very busy schedules so we could not go for all the 54 African countries on a single trip… .

“We are trying to make arrangement for President Mugabe to visit China sometime in the second half of this year so normally we do not have upcoming visits and outgoing visits in the same year.

“There is a possibility for a Chinese leader to pay a visit to Zimbabwe next year or the year after as a return visit to Zimbabwe.”

Ambassador Lin said China did not meddle in the affairs of other countries and respected choices made by other countries when it came to leadership.

He was responding to a question that he was being pushed for him to comment on the leadership renewal in China visa vis the re-election of President Mugabe last year as the Head of State in last year’s elections.

Also contributing at the same forum was the French ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse who denied the existence of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union.

He said Zimbabwe should move towards a culture of accountability before blaming the sanctions.

Ambassador Delahousse said Zimbabweans should deal with sanctions they had imposed on themselves first.

He said Zimbabwe should deal with its country risk for it to attract Foreign Direct Investment.

“Stop blaming it on sanctions,” he said. “Sanctions have very small effect on the economy… Move to a culture of accountability. When something goes wrong in the country it is not because of sanctions. When elephants are poisoned at Hwange is it because of sanctions?” he asked.

He said corruption and lack of clarity on the implementation of the indigenisation policy was not the best way of attracting Foreign Direct Investment.

Other ambassadors that attended the dialogue are Marcia Maro da Silva (Brazil), Vusi Mavimbela (South Africa), Sergy Bakharev (Russia) and Aldo Dell Ariccia (EU).

Source : The Herald