The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi in Shandong, China
China’s Shandong province has agreed to start working on a twinning agreement with Mashonaland East, in a move that offers massive benefits for Zimbabwe in line with the national devolution programme.
The deal was clinched on Friday during the ongoing exchange visit to China by a high-powered Zanu-PF delegation led by party chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri.
With a Gross Domestic Product of $1,2 trillion, Shandong is one of China’s fastest developing provinces and an economic powerhouse that leverages on its huge population of over 100 million as well as its coastal location.
Speaking during a meeting with Mr Liu Jiayi, who is Secretary of the CPC’s Shandong Provincial Committee Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said the twinning of the two provinces would set the stage for similar arrangements in the future.
“We are very thankful for this development to allow the province of Shandong to partner with Mashonaland East. This is a test case, which, if successful, will lead other provinces to follow suit,” said Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri.”
“Zanu-PF has found a new friend through this province and I want to congratulate our two provinces as well as our two Presidents (President Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Xi Jinping) who gave us this vision.”
Owing to its huge population, Shandong offers market opportunities for agriculture produce and officials from the province said they were particularly interested in tomatoes and other horticultural products from Zimbabwe.
Cde Muchinguri said Shandong’s pact with Mashonaland East would allow for such opportunities to be exploited adding that the province’s abundant natural resources such as fertile lands, lithium, gold, chrome, and diamonds were a further attraction to potential investors.
The Zanu PF national chairperson, invited Mr Liu to Zimbabwe while she also reiterated that President Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra was no fluke.
In his remarks, Mr Liu said he would direct the relevant offices to immediately start working on the proposed twinning arrangement.
“We have heard your request and we are also willing to work with Zimbabwe for the twinning of our two provinces. We will talk to the international department of the CPC and also the Foreign Affairs Office to come up with the plan for us to work together,” he said.
Mr Liu said trade between Shandong and Zimbabwe surpassed US$70 million in 2018 and during the first quarter of the year stood at US$30 million.
Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Cde Apolonia Munzverengwi, who is also part of the Zanu-PF delegation in China welcomed the proposed partnership with Shandong.
“This is the beginning of great and exciting times for Mashonaland East. We are happy that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s devolution programme is now bearing fruit.”
Meanwhile the Zanu-PF delegation on Saturday toured various projects of the CPC in Jinan.
The Zanu-PF delegation also comprises national political commissar Lieutenant General Dr Engelbert Rugeje (Retired) and Cdes Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Secretary for External Affairs), Mabel Chinomona (Secretary for Women’s League), Paul Mangwana (Secretary for Legal Affairs), Lovemore Matuke (Secretary for Security), Pupurai Togarepi (Secretary for Youth Affairs), Munyaradzi Machacha (Principal of the Chitepo Ideological College), Douglas Mahiya (Deputy Secretary for War Veterans), Tsitsi Muzenda (Politburo member) and Resten Magumise (director at Chitepo Ideological College). Tsitsi Gezi (legislator),