China in Zimbabwe…







Jevans Nyabiage

Published: 7:00pm, 5 Jan, 2020

Beijing is footing the bill for a US$140 million parliament building in Zimbabwe. Photo: Twitter

With China’s help, a new city is taking shape on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, as Beijing deepens its influence in Africa.

A US$140 million six-storey parliament building being constructed on Mount Hampden, about 18km (11 miles) northwest of Harare, is the linchpin of a move by the southern African country to ease congestion in the crowded capital.

Sitting on the top of a hill, the imposing circular complex being erected by China’s Shanghai Construction Group is fully paid by Beijing, which regards the gesture as a donation.

The 33,000 square metre (355,209 square foot) complex will replace the current 100-seat, colonial-era building which Zimbabwean officials consider too small for the country’s 350 legislators.

Besides the parliament, the Zimbabwean government also plans to relocate some of its administrative units, including its judiciary and executive branches, to the site, where a state house and official residences for the speaker of the House of Assembly and president of the Senate also will be built.

Paying for the construction of grandiose symbols of the state, such as presidential palaces and parliamentary buildings, through grants or interest-free loans, has been one of Beijing’s major diplomatic strategies on the continent.

When China first started establishing diplomatic relations with Africa between the 1950s and 1970s, it used offers of financial help and interest-free loans and sent over medical teams to endear itself to African countries.

In return, those nations helped Beijing secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 1971. Until then the seat had been occupied by the Republic of China government seated in Taiwan.

Beijing has since funded several projects, including soccer stadiums, in nations such as Cameroon, Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana, Angola and Zambia. It has also paid for parliamentary buildings in the Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. Further, China has gifted presidential palaces to countries such as Togo, Sudan, Burundi and Guinea-Bissau.

The trend has picked up recently with Beijing bankrolling the building of the US$200 million African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Also, last year, Beijing said it would fund the building of the new headquarters for the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja, Nigeria, for US$31.6 million.

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