The Chinese will soon hand over a state-of-the-art new parliament building to Zimbabwe amid serious state security concerns. Some Zimbabweans have also questioned the Chinese’s intentions for donating the building to a nation with massive natural resources being allegedly parceled out to the Asian nation. The new parliament was built at a cost of more than US$200 million with certain building materials sourced from China.
Independent political analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya, questioned the so-called gift, saying it will come at a high cost to the nation’s sovereignty. “Parliament is a very important building in a country and should not be given to some foreigner to build it. This can be equated to losing one’s dignity and putting the sovereignty issue at stake,” said Ngwenya.
Another political analyst based in South Africa, Munjodzi Mtandiri, said people should have been consulted before the government signed an agreement with the Chinese to build the six-story circular complex in Mt. Hampden. “The problem with our leaders is that they just make important decisions without consulting the people. Building new parliament near Harare is against the spirit of devolution. It should have been built in another town like Bulawayo,” said Mtandiri. Opposition Citizen Coalition for Change deputy spokesperson, Ostalos Siziba, said the new parliament should also bring good ways of doing business in parliament like creating people-centered laws. “It’s good that we have a new parliament but it should also reflect the new ways of doing things in parliament by creating laws that respect and uphold the freedoms of our people,” said Siziba
Norton’s independent member of parliament, Temba Mliswa, took a swipe at the government for setting up a new parliament building saying it won’t improve the quality of debate, which is currently lacking. “The improvement of technology that will come with the new parliament building has nothing to do with the quality of debate improving. The quality of debate improves if you choose members of parliament with a capacity no matter how nice and how well-equipped,” said Mliswa.
There are fears that the new building could have been bugged with sophisticated eavesdropping equipment but the assertion has been denied by a representative of the contractor, Cai Libo of Shanghai Construction Group. “You know that Zimbabwe and China are all-weather friends and as a friend, you don’t do such kind of a thing to a friend. The government of Zimbabwe is authorized for a special examination of the building,” said Libo.
Deputy Information Minister, Kindness Paradza, said China’s friendship with Zimbabwe started long back during the liberation struggle when China provided weapons to ZANU PF’s armed wing, ZANLA. “It should be stated from the onset that it’s not new that China is helping Zimbabwe. This started way back during the armed struggle when we received ammunition for free from the Chinese people. Why can it be an issue now?” said Paradza.
Some claim that it’s payback time for China for being awarded various projects they are doing in the country. The Chinese are reportedly funding the setting up of Natpharm Stores at Sally Mugabe Hospital, awarded tenders for airport expansion in Harare, Bulawayo, and Vic Falls, and refurbishing power projects in Hwange, and Kariba. They also have water reticulation projects in most cities and towns, running into millions of dollars.
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