Zimbabwe: China Extends $153m Loan for Mugabe Airport, New Parliament

Grace Mugabe

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, and Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping signed the agreements on behalf of their respective governments.

These could include repealing or making significant changes to the indigenisation law, which requires foreign investors to part with majority shares. It proposed to confine laws that force companies to transfer 51 percent stakes to black Zimbabweans to the platinum and diamond industries only, he said.

"As we focus on recovery of our economy, we must shed misbehaviors and acts of indiscipline which have characterized the past", he told parliament. He unveiled spending cuts including the closure of some diplomatic missions. At present, more than 90% of government expenditure goes to pay civil servants' salaries.

The Zimbabwe-China deals, though negotiated under the administration of former President Robert Mugabe, are the first major ones to be signed under the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mr Chinamasa also said all civil servants over the age of 65 would have to retire as the government aims for a 2018 budget deficit of below 4% of GDP.

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He said Chinamasa had failed to meet budget forecasts in past years and there was little in his budget speech to indicate 2018 would be any different.

Chinamasa lauded the Chinese for their continuous support of Zimbabwe's economic development programmes, even when Harare at times defaulted on its loan repayments.

Mnangagwa has taken over power from Robert Mugabe after he was ousted from office by the military last month.

In the latter half of his rule, Zimbabwe's economy collapsed, especially after violent and chaotic seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms.

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