About 70 participants from the Zimbabwean government ministries and departments will this week participate in a five-day China-Zimbabwe economic reform and transformation virtual workshop to discuss the crafting of a five-year national development plan with assistance from Chinese experts.
The plan seeks to enhance production capacity and investment through the implementation of special economic zones, the government-controlled Herald newspaper reported Tuesday.
The five-year plan, which follows Zimbabwe’s Transitional Stabilization Program (TSP), will be implemented from 2021 to 2025.
The workshop also seeks to discuss designing, planning and implementation of special economic zones, the operation of one-stop-service centers, attraction of investment, and preferential policies using the examples of the Harbin National Economic and Technological Development Zone and the Chengdu National Economic and Technological Development Zone.
Zimbabwean participants will be in Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, various government offices and three special venues.
The workshop will be conducted in line with COVID-19 guidelines, especially the need for social distancing.
Generally, Zimbabwean participants travel to China for the workshop every year, but this has not been possible this time around because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretary in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s Office, Godfrey Chanakira, said the training started in December 2015 when several agreements were signed between Zimbabwe and China.
Among them was an agreement between Zimbabwe and the National Development and Reform Commission of China, which entailed the two nations cooperating on the process of economic reform and transformation.
“The five-year development plan has been on a special request based on the last team which went to China for training. We have already started the process of developing our first five-year plan following on to the Transitional Stabilization Program.
“The program will cover the period 2021 to 2025 and any assistance in that regard learning from the experience of others, will be welcome,” he said.
Chanakira said in addition to Special Economic Zones, the government was looking at broader areas of cooperation like the development of a five-year development plan and how they could access any funding, which is accessible to African countries, from China.
“We have not made much strides in attracting the developers for the special economic zones and this is one of the reasons why government has set up the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency and special economic zones now fall under that agency,” he said.
The Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Martin Rushwaya, said the workshop was meant to further strengthen the cooperation framework between the government, represented by the Office of the President, and China represented by the International Cooperation Center of the National Development and Reform Commission.
“The training is part of the government’s cooperation in enhancing production capacity and investment through the implementation of special economic zones. Government would want to see the gazetted special economic zones implemented expeditiously and has so far put in place all the institutional framework including the establishment of a one-stop-shop center called the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency to handle all investment matters under one roof,” he said.
Rushwaya said Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been on a drive to see urgent reforms in the economic sphere under the mantra, “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”.
In December 2015, Zimbabwe and China signed agreements in energy, agriculture, mining, infrastructure, tourism and other key areas, including the framework agreement on the development of production capacity cooperation between the National Development Reform Commission of China and the Office of the President and Cabinet of Zimbabwe.
Chinese Professor Song Qun said the significance of the five-year plan included identifying the directions and specifying major tasks for national development for a certain period.
“This should include facilitating social cohesion and mobilize effective resources in a centralized way to accelerate development.
“The five-year plan should develop countries to leverage their late mover advantages to catch up with and even surpass the developed countries,” he said.