Bemoaning idle billions Zimbabwe not exploiting
China said Zimbabwe was not adequately exploiting opportunities it was presenting because officials in Harare did not adequately familiarise themselves with Beijing’s development documents. Then China’s acting ambassador to Zimbabwe on 3 December 2018, Zhao Baogang, told editors during a briefing in Harare that Beijing’s multi-billion dollar opportunities for Zimbabwe under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation [FOCAC], were not being taken up by Harare. He said each time he engaged Zimbabwean officials on the Belt and Road Initiative and FOCAC, it seemed the officials had not read the documents pertaining to the two programmes.
He said, China, as the world’s second largest economy, had set aside $60 billion for development projects in Africa under the Belt and Road Initiative, and another $60 billion under FOCAC. The acting ambassador added that Under the Belt and Road Initiative, they had already established the AfriAsia Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Fund, and the Silk Road Fund. He said these were the financial tools and financial institutions with the money and the capital.
And, under FOCAC, the China Africa Development Fund, would offer special loans for the development of small and medium enterprises in Africa. The ambassador was worried that Zimbabweans were not exploiting this facility. The Chinese diplomat said he was aware of Zimbabwe’s urgent need for funding to accelerate the reconstruction of the country under President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is keen to rebuild it into a middle-income economy by 2030.
Zimbabwe is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which involves a monumental US$1 trillion worth of planned investments to build railways, ports, and other infrastructure in 65 countries across three continents.
Chinese COVID-19 Vaccines to Zimbabwe
On 14 February 2021, he tweeted that, "Air Zimbabwe plane has already has landed in Beijing and will transport 200 000 doses of vaccines donated by China back to Zimbabwe tomorrow morning. congratulations."
Welcoming back VP Chiwenga from China in 2019
Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga returned home on 23 November 2019 after spending four months in China receiving medical treatment for an unknown illness, state-owned media reported. His health was of great interest to Zimbabweans as he was widely seen as the driving force behind the country’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the front-runner to succeed him. His absence from public duties had stoked speculation about the gravity of his illness, which authorities had sought to play down.
The Herald, a government-owned newspaper, showed images of Chiwenga arriving at Harare’s airport in the early hours of Saturday 23 November 2019, looking healthier than when he was last seen in public in June 2019. He was welcomed by relatives and China’s deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe Zhao Baogang, the newspaper said.
Zhao Baogang came under fire in April 2020 after he said that no Zimbabweans had died of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in China compared to the UK.
“No Zimbabwe died of COVID-19 in China, we take good care of them. 29 Zimbabweans die of COVID-19 in UK,” Baogang wrote on his Twitter – @zhaobaogang2011.
However, Zimbabweans did not take kindly to the message and leading the assail, exiled former Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo called for Baogang to leave Zimbabwe immediately.
Baogang later deleted the tweet.
Zimbabweans said his message was ‘insensitive’, ‘celebratory’ in that 29 Zimbabweans had died of COVID-19 in the UK.
“This revolutionary Chinese friend of the rogue regime is undiplomatically and proud celebrating Zimbabwean deaths in the UK due to #COVID-19 in such an insensitive way that would get him sent back to his racist homeland in any other country with a proper and legitimate government,” Moyo said in protest.
“The racist diplomat from racist China had deleted his offensive, outrageous and totally unacceptable tweet as if he does not know that the internet, or rather @Twitter does not forget, this @zhaobaogang2011 must go.”
Journalist Hopewell Chin'ono said Baogang wanted to pit Zimbabweans against other nations.
“This racist Chinese deputy ambassador @zhaobaogang2011 wants to pit us against other nations! We should REFUSE that! Our people living in UK have held our economy with remittances (Remittances and economic growth in Zimbabwe). China has done NOTHING for the common except to LOOT our resources and attack Africans in China,” he said.
Most of the Zimbabweans who have died in the UK are nurses and front line health workers.
- , Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Zimbabwe, Published: 9 October, 2015, Accessed: 14 February, 2021
- Kelvin Jakachira, , Business Times, Published: 4 December, 2018, Accessed: 14 February, 2021
- MacDonald Dzirutwe, , Reuters, Published: 23 November, 2019, Accessed: 14 February, 2021
- Robert Tapfumaneyi, , New Zimbabwe, Published: 25 April, 2020, Accessed: 14 February, 2021