Chinese president expected to sign multi-billion dollar deals on stopover in Harare
By John Cassim
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Zimbabwe for the start of a two-day state visit on Tuesday.
Xi, the most prominent world leader to visit the politically isolated country in years, is expected to seal multi-billion dollar deals in energy, agriculture, manufacturing and mining in a boost to Zimbabwe’s economy.
The president arrived on an Air China jet with wife Peng Liyuan and an entourage of journalists and officials. They were greeted by President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and a clutch of ministers and Xi was given a 21-gun salute before inspecting a guard of honor.
China is a major investor in mineral-rich Zimbabwe, which became a pariah to the West over Mugabe’s often violent land reforms.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa would not give any detail on the expected deals.
“All I can say is that the Chinese president and President Robert Mugabe are expected to sign various deals today mainly in energy,” he told Anadolu Agency. “We cannot revamp our economy if power remains a challenge.”
Information, Communication and Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said some Chinese investment would be channeled into the communication sector.
“We are now living in a global world and investment in communication is key for development in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Security was tight at the airport outside Harare and the Chinese plane was escorted in by military jets and helicopters.
Hundreds of supporters of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party gathered on the tarmac to sing revolutionary songs in praise of both Mugabe and Xi.
The airport road was lined with Chinese and Zimbabweans waiting to glimpse the visitors. The flags of both nations decorated the 12 kilometer (7 mile) route alongside billboards bearing messages such as “Zimbabwe and China, a culture of friendship”.
The night before Xi’s arrival, delegates at a China-Zimbabwe business forum in Harare were told Zimbabwe would become China’s sixth-highest priority nation for investment.
Xi is due to depart for a China-Africa summit in South Africa on Wednesday.