By Nkosana Dlamini
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says shock revelations linking Chinese nationals among those heavily involved in illicit financial dealings in the country will not lead to any strained relations between Harare and Beijing.
He was speaking from China in a telephone interview with NewZimbabwe.com on Tuesday following the government’s publication of nearly 2,000 firms and individuals accused of externalising foreign currency in Zimbabwe.
According to the list, a significant amount of an outstanding $800 million dollars was spirited away to Chinese banks by individuals of Chinese origin during a time span which was not stated.
“China is our all-weather friend,” Chinamasa said, “Whatever those people do, we don’t hold the Chinese government to account. These are people who come to do business.
“It’s not the People’s Republic of China. And if they don’t obey our laws, the law will be pursued.”
Look East policy
Zimbabwe embarked on a controversial Look East Policy following a bitter fallout with its European allies during the onset of government’s land grabs from white farmers soon after the turn of the century.
The stance saw the Robert Mugabe-led administration grant generous investment rights in mining, retail, energy and other sectors to Chinese nationals.
The Chinese have since been accused of rampant labour rights violations and failure to bank their monies with the local financial institutions.
But while the accusations have often gone on without any action by government, Zimbabweans came face to face with the Chinese ruin when a government list of those who externalised foreign country exposed evidence of gross financial delinquency by the Asians.
Mugabe, at one time, revealed his frustrations with Chinese nationals he said were involved in unethical their business practices.
With empirical evidence now in the public domain, Chinamasa on Tuesday said there would be no special policies introduced to curb the tide of Chinese ruin, adding that Zimbabwean nationals also violated other country’s laws after all.
“When Zimbabweans commit any wrongdoings elsewhere in the world, we don’t hold the government of Zimbabwe to account and I think the same thing can happen with any nationality,” he said.
“Our friendship is much stronger to be affected by the wrong doings of our nationals where ever they are.
“What is important about that list is the need to restore order in the manner we run our economy to make sure those who are in the habit of doing what is in the schedule are aware that we are watching.
“We have got systems that will detect that this is not a good thing and that people who do so must be brought to book.”