Elliot Ziwira Senior Features Writer
One thing that is of importance to a people, Africans included, and pertinently Zimbabweans, of course, is the essence of reciprocity.
We believe that a good turn deserves another, and that a good friend is one that visits you, as much as you visit them.
In April this year, President Mnangagwa led a delegation of 10 Cabinet ministers and about 80 business executives to China, as the new administration angled for opportunities in an effort to buttress ways to turnaround the economy, which has been under stress for the past two decades or so.
The President outlined his noble intentions then when he said: “The issue is not only about attracting capital into Zimbabwe.
It’s an issue of leapfrogging after 18 years of isolation so that we catch up with the rest of the developing countries.”
Indeed, 18 years in the socio-political wilderness is a long time; so long that drastic, yet cautious measures are required to return to the fold for the common good of the nation state.
The reciprocal visit by a delegation of 60 Chinese government officials and private business executives to Harare on Sunday, led by the Secretary of Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the standing committee of Zhejiang’s Provincial People’s Congress Mr Che Jun, ahead of the Zimbabwe-China Forum on Monday, to scout for business opportunities, is a huge step towards win-win outcomes.
The Chinese delegation’s call comes at an opportune moment as it dovetails with President Xi Jinping’s December 2015 vision for “real win-win cooperation” between China and Africa.
To back up this strategy to “do good while doing right”, China has reportedly committed US$60 billion in new investment for capital projects in Africa. With China investing in 22 African countries; and Chinese companies having invested US$14 billion by September 2016 as Amy Jadesimi noted in her article “How China’s $60 Billion For Africa Will Drive Global Prosperity”; it is befitting that President Mnangagwa positions Zimbabwe to tap into this huge investment pool by opening up to the Chinese, opportunities in all sectors under the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation and Partnership as agreed on during his visit to Beijing in April.
As there is need to “leapfrog” from decades of isolation, and lack of political will to mitigate poverty through implementation of sound people-oriented socio-economic policies, devoid of politics of subterfuge, Zimbabwe-China relations should move towards economics, as opposed to the political tilt they were largely inclined; going back to the 1970s at the height of the liberation struggle.
It is true that Zimbabwe requires foreign direct investment (FDI) to take a forward trajectory, hence, the President’s “open for business” call.
However, this call is not only for the Chinese, as indeed, all other players, the world over, are invited; provided they are willing to foster win-win outcomes.
What is interesting to note is the Chinese’s commitment to business as is evidenced by their following up on the April deliberations in Beijing.
The Chinese are known to move in with haste when it comes to grabbing opportunities as compared to the Westerners, especially the Americans, with their wait-and-see attitude.
As an emerging global economic powerhouse, second only to the US, China’s commitment to invest in Zimbabwe will position the economy for a rebound “in the shortest possible time”, with investments in mining, manufacturing and agriculture.
The country’s manufacturing industry is in bad state, with obsolete equipment aggravating costs of production, the mining sector, which should be the bedrock for revitalisation of the economy due to the vast mineral resources in the bowels of the Motherland; is choking and agriculture requires mechanisation to be at par with current global agricultural trends.
As the President has implored, local businesspeople should make inroads into the opportunities that their Chinese counterparts open up in mutually beneficial partnerships so that outcomes may be changed for the betterment of the lives of the generality of Zimbabweans.
It is time now that the fruit trees come to fruition, for the wilderness has proven to be emasculating and energy sapping for decades.
With the Government playing its role in laying down the policy and legislative framework required for guaranteeing the safety of investments and lowering the risk of doing business; and bringing to book all those individuals bent on turning the forward strides to backpedals through corruption, Zimbabweans should play their role in complementing such efforts, instead of seeing negativity and doom in everything.
However, as is expected in all negotiation situations leading to the signing of Memorandums of Understanding; deals on paper should translate to tangibles.
Expectations are heightened when deals worth billions of dollars are inked; expectations that poverty will be eradicated and that the situation on the ground reflects on the deliberations behind closed doors.
In that vein, it has to be understood that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, which step should not remain rooted on the first rung.
It is imperative to understand that the Chinese, though haste in their movement, believe in establishing strong relationships before closing deals, which may require several meetings.
It is their culture of negotiation to exceed deadlines so as to gain some leverage, therefore, delays are not an indicator of lack of commitment on their part; and deadlines to them are not their way of doing business. The fact that they are pursuing on the deals, shows that they are in for business; real business.
As has been said, however, it is every Zimbabwean’s wish, the President included, that the mega deals signed so far, complemented by the reciprocal visit by a 60-member Chinese delegation, turn to fruition; and the President expresses in his concluding remarks at the Zimbabwe-China Forum: “Allow me to conclude my remarks by reiterating my call for Chinese investors to take maximum advantage of the upgrading of our relations to that of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnerships for win-win outcomes.
“It is, therefore, my fervent hope that the business-to-business engagements at this forum will achieve tangible and practical results. Once again, I thank you for coming to explore trade and investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and where possible conclude deals.”
Indeed, it is everyone’s “fervent hope” that deals are concluded and practical results are realised for the upliftment of the lives of all Zimbabweans, and that golden future time should not forever remain in the unforeseeable future.
It should be nigh!