President Edgar Lungu has taken quite a battering from some sections of our society for a series mega million deals struck with China on the side-lines of the just concluded Beijing Summit of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
President Lungu has been accused of auctioning the country to the Chinese by striking long term deals with the one of the world’s biggest economic powers.
People have not drawn themselves to the background of these deals that seem to provide a window for development for some of the most critical sectors of our economy.
Any sane person would ask themselves why 53 of the 54 Heads of State were all gathered in China at the behest of their host President Xi Jinping. Only the Swazis were not represented at the summit as they still favour dealings with Taiwan.
We can imagine what condemnation President Lungu may have received if he were to be second absentee at the widely recognized global forum. His critics would have gone to town painting him black for not being at the table with the continent’s top diplomats negotiating developmental deals.
President Lungu has not birthed relations between Zambia and China as they are as historic as the founding of this country. Has China not been an ever present partner throughout the various stages of our country’s economic life? Do we not delight in the long term infrastructural legacy in the Tanzania-Zambia Railways, Mulungushi Textiles among others? Has China not been available for Zambian when all other powers could offer were expensive deals that permanently bonded our country? Does China not have the option to look elsewhere?
China itself has opened its doors to Africa with the continent at liberty to define its relations through summits like the just ended China Africa summit.
Before we get lost in the anti-China sentiments perhaps we could recap what has been some of the mega deals struck at the just ended China Africa-Summit on the Zambian front.
- The agreement on the economic and technical cooperation to Zambia which is the provision of the 30 million dollars.
- The letter for the extension of validity of economic and technical cooperation also worth 30 million dollars interest free loan to extend the 2012 agreement.
- A memorandum of understanding on the belt and road initiative which is to provide for the cooperation between the two countries under a signature visionary initiative by President Xi Jinping which was signed by the Honourable Minister of National Development planning Alexander Chiteme.
- An important agreement called the protocol on the export of honey from Zambia to China reiterating that this was a remarkable development because it emphasises the quality of the products from Zambia.
- Another agreement was by CNMC – China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Company and the ministry of Commerce signed by Hon Christopher Yaluma which intends to establish an industrial park and facilitate for trainings in mining operations.
- An MoU between a private company called Protea Infrastructure Development Fund regarding investment in a power plant was also signed by the ministry of Commerce.
- A memorandum of understanding to invest in the mineral processing plant in Zambia by Maolian Technology who are the owners of Nkana Alloy, the owners of the Black Mountain saying they have signed an agreement to invest in an ultra-modern minerals processing plant in the multi-facility zone at Chambishi
- Hon Brian Mushimba under Smart Zambia also signed another agreement with Huawei Institute regarding the launch and extension of the Smart Zambia project into phase 3.
- The ministry of transport and communication also signed another memorandum of understanding with Huawei to cooperate in the expansion and development of ICTs.
So while we fret about the Zambia-China relations, we could perhaps zero in on the value of these deals struck otherwise we think there is no way of developing our country without looking elsewhere for progressive partners