Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is scheduled to depart for Beijing soon after his visit in Russia for a possible US$ 4bn cash bailout. President Mugabe reportedly moved forward his official opening of the 104th edition of the Harare Agricultural Show to Friday to accommodate his planned state visit to China. The visit confirms Zimbabwe’s quest for Chinese assistance to pull the country out of the current economic meltdown. A ministerial delegation, which sits on the Zimbabwe-China Joint Permanent Commission, has already left for China and is focusing more on securing Chinese participation in the implementation of various capital projects across key sectors in water, energy and construction, among others.
Mugabe’s Beijing visit, however, comes a few days after he told the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit that the regional bloc should wean itself from depending on foreign partners. Assuming the chairmanship of SADC, Mugabe immediately declared his wish for the regional block to wean itself from over-reliance on foreign partners. “Our continued over-reliance on the generosity and goodwill of our cooperating partners tends to compromise our ownership and sustainability of our Sadc programmes. How can we proudly claim Sadc to be our own organisation, when close to 60% of our programmes are externally funded?” Mugabe queried.
Currently, about 60% of SADC’s programmes are externally funded. However, his country, stung by a plethora of economic problems including a US$ 10bn debt overhang, does not have the capacity to go it alone without external funding.