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China investment critics doing US bidding: Mutambara
17/06/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Defence ... Mutambara meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo in 2009
 
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CRITICS of Chinese investment in Zimbabwe are doing the bidding for Europe and America, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told MPs on Wednesday.

"You should not fight the Chinese on behalf of the Americans. You should not fight the Chinese on behalf of the Europeans,” Mutambara said in Parliament, responding to a question from Zaka West MP Festus Dumbu (MDC-T) on alleged mistreatment of employees by Chinese businesses.

“Most of the criticisms of the Chinese in Africa are initiated by their competitors from Europe and America. Africans are being used to do the bidding for them,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.

Dumbu had asked Mutambara whether Chinese businessmen were “immune” from prosecution for what he claimed was “abuse of subordinates or employees”.

But Mutambara urgend MPs to focus on the bigger picture, saying even the United States and European countries had understood that “without China, they cannot survive”.

He added: "As long as you are clever as a nation, you should be able to extract and unlock value from the relationship with China. What I’m emphasising is that China has 1,3 billion people and has already overtaken Japan in terms of GDP. It will overtake the US in 2015. China is the future.

"We should protect our interests but we cannot avoid the Chinese, they are part of the global economy. Let us not fight the Chinese, let us make sure we protect our industries and work with them. We need a win-win framework.”

But Mutambara said Zimbabwe stood to lose if it allowed Chinese investors to take raw minerals out of Zimbabwe for processing.

"Why can’t we work with them to process minerals in the country so that we can cut diamonds in Zimbabwe and sell jewellery, so that we can process our chrome so that they will take finished products? That’s what we call beneficiation.

"We are saying let us determine the terms of reference between ourselves and China, that is one thing we need to do -- beneficiation, value addition or move up the value chain with the Chinese and not allow them to take raw materials from this country for a song to China.”

Earlier this week, it was reported that a high-level delegation from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee (OCC) of the National People’s Congress of China was in Zimbabwe to hold seminars to encourage Chinese nationals to live harmoniously with locals in an effort to boost relations between the two countries.



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Yu Linxiang, who is the chairperson of the OCC, told Senate President Edna Madzongwe during a courtesy visit: “Our delegation came to Zimbabwe at the invitation of the Chinese Embassy in Harare and we would like to meet the Chinese people in Zimbabwe and particularly learn how they live and how they deal with the Zimbabwean people.

“We will also hold seminars for the Chinese people living in Zimbabwe to encourage them to play a role in building the Zimbabwean economy.”

Last month, construction workers at the National Defence College employed by a Chinese contractor, Anhui Foreign Economy Construction Company, downed tools over a litany of complaints including physical assaults at work.

In a related incident last week, employees at Chinese Garden Restaurant in Milton Park exposed how their Chinese employer was ill-treating and underpaying them.

Patrick Mandaza, a cook at the restaurant, had to undergo X-ray examinations after he was allegedly assaulted by his Chinese employer.

In Chiadzwa where another Chinese firm, Anjin, is mining diamonds, complaints of ill-treatment of locals have also been raised, prompting the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions to intervene.


 
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