HARARE – Zimbabwe announced a $23 million rural development grant from China on Tuesday and suggested the Asian economic powerhouse was considering a “comprehensive” financial rescue package for the troubled southern African country.
Zimbabwe cannot access funds from multilateral finance institutions and its traditional Western funders due to arrears and a breakdown in relations at the turn of the century, but requires about $27 billion to repair its decaying infrastructure and revive its ailing economy, which shrank by as much as 50% between 2000 and 2008.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that the government had secured the funding commitment after his visit to China last month, adding that the package, whose details he did not provide, was likely to be concluded within three months.
“During the visit we agreed that while the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of Zimbabwe are working towards the conclusion of a comprehensive financial package and committed ourselves to finalising the matter within the next three months, the Chinese Embassy in Harare will meanwhile remain at our disposal for other assistance programmes,” Chinamasa said at a signing ceremony at his Harare offices.
“The $23,3 million grant we are signing today is one such assistance that has been availed to us.”
The Chinese rescue package is expected to fund government’s five-year economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (Zim Asset) which requires at least $27 billion to implement.
The $23 million grant will go towards various projects and programmes, which include construction and equipping of schools and hospitals, agriculture projects, borehole drilling and the supply of mobile solar units in rural areas.
– The Source