HARARE Feb 11 Zimbabwe expects to conclude
negotiations for comprehensive financial aid with long-time ally
China in the next three months as President Robert Mugabe's
government seeks to revive a slowing economy, the finance
minister said on Tuesday.
The government requires $27 billion - more than twice the
size of its economy - to fund a five-year plan to improve basic
services and rebuild the impoverished southern African country,
according to state officials.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that he
had travelled to Beijing for a week last month to negotiate for
money that the government wants to boost the shaky economy.
"During the visit we agreed that the government of the
People's Republic of China and the government of Zimbabwe are
working towards a comprehensive financial package and (we)
committed ourselves to finalising the matter within three
months," Chinamasa said, declining to give details.
Shunned by Western governments and funding institutions such
as the World Bank because of its failure to repay billions of
dollars of debt, Harare is increasingly looking to China for
China, meanwhile, covets Zimbabwean mineral resources. The
landlocked country has the world's second largest reserves of
platinum along with huge deposits of gold, alluvial diamonds,
coal and chrome.
In March 2011, China signed nearly $700 million in loan
deals with Zimbabwe, its biggest such package to date. China's
Export Import Bank last November agreed to lend Zimbabwe $320
million to expand its Kariba hydro-power plant by 300 MW.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Mark Heinrich)