THERE was commotion in the National Assembly yesterday when opposition MPs took Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to task over President Robert Mugabe’s recent five-day State visit to China, which they claimed was a failure.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
The MPs suggested Mugabe came back empty handed and this drew the ire of Zanu PF MPs who vociferously defended the trip.
MDC-T MP for Musikavanhu, Prosper Mutseyami, was the first to ask Chinamasa to explain if he came back with financial support from the Chinese trip.
Chinamasa said what they managed to achieve was serious engagement where the Chinese were going to fund bankable projects in Zimbabwe.
“Let me say that what we have been able to achieve was serious engagement with the Chinese authorities and serious commitment at the highest levels to fund bankable, viable projects that we submitted to them,” he said.
Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda said the House was specifically asking about cash commitments and not projects, saying the minister’s answer implied that they came back empty handed.
“The education that I want to give to this MP is that no person gives you cash,” Chinamasa replied.
But Sibanda said he did not need further education from the minister as he was already sufficiently educated, causing Zanu PF legislators to interject, resulting in noise in the House.
Zanu PF proportional representation MP Monica Chigudu ended up raising a point of order after the exchange between Chinamasa and Sibanda sparked a lot of noise.
“We do not come here to play and insult each other. You do not know how this country came, it came through war,” said a visibly angry Chigudu.
Acting Speaker Melody Dziva told MPs to behave as the whole of Zimbabwe was watching the question-and-answer session on television.
She told the legislators Zimbabweans needed answers to the economic problems bedevilling the country.
Chinamasa said it was regrettable that some MPs were not amenable to continuous education.
“China does not give budgetary support to any country in the world.
China is interested in funding infrastructural development and the negotiations with Chinese authorities were about funding infrastructural issues of power deficit, dualisation of highways, railway rehabilitation, water and others.
We came back with commitments that they were prepared without limits to fund bankable, feasible, viable projects,” he said.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya asked Chinamasa to explain if the government had, in its negotiations, ensured that Zimbabweans would benefit more on employment creation when the deals are implemented while accusing Chinese firms of bringing their own labourers.
But Chinamasa, in response, said Zimbabweans had benefited from previous deals with Chinese companies and would continue to do so.
“It’s not the first time I am hearing that allegation. We have projects which we have undertaken with them and I have no evidence of people coming to push wheelbarrows from China,” he said.
“They come with technical people and labour is provided by Zimbabweans.”
Beijing, according to Chinamasa, has made it a condition that only Chinese companies be contracted to implement the infrastructure projects.
Mugabe signed several agreements with Chinese institutions and was given a warm reception in that country.
However, prior to his visit there were reports that Zimbabwe was seeking a $4 billion bailout from China, which was never discussed during Mugabe’s stay in Asia.
— Additional reporting by The Source