There was confusion as to whether Zimbabwe had received a loan of US$950 million from China or not just five months after the signing of the inclusive government.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai claimed that Zimbabwe was not looking West or Looking East.
Tsvangirai said Finance Minister Tendai Biti had been assured of credit lines totalling US$950 million from China while (Tsvangirai) he had been away in the United States and Britain.
Biti denied that Zimbabwe had reached any agreements with China.
Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi said he could not understand why Biti was insisting that there was no money coming from China.
President Robert Mugabe jumped in thanking China for the money but insisting that the money had nothing to do with the MDC because it had been secured four years earlier.
Viewing cable 09HARARE557, CHINESE ASSISTANCE TO ZIMBABWE
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SUBJECT: CHINESE ASSISTANCE TO ZIMBABWE
¶1. (U) Over the past couple of weeks, both President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have claimed
credit for obtaining $US950 million in lines of credit from
China. There were also reports that Zimbabwe would receive a
$5 billion loan in exchange for platinum mining rights. At a
press conference on July 3, Minister of Finance Tendai Biti
categorically denied both loans. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (U) On June 30, Tsvangirai issued a statement summarizing
his recently-concluded trip to the U.S. and Europe. After
claiming pledges of humanitarian and transitional assistance
of $500 million, he commented that Zimbabwe was not
restricted to a “look west” or “look east” policy and averred
that in his absence Biti had secured lines of credit from
China totaling $950 million. On July 2, the Zimbabwe
Independent reported that Biti had signed a Memorandum of
Understanding with China’s Eximbank for a $5 billion loan in
exchange for platinum rights.
¶3. (U) At a press conference on July 3, Biti denied that
Zimbabwe had reached any agreements with China for loans.
Speaking to The Standard after Biti’s conference,
Tsvangirai’s spokesman, James Maridadi, addressed the alleged
$950 million loan and said it represented pledges; he could
not understand why Biti was insisting there was no money
coming from China.
¶4. (U) The Herald’s banner headline on July 6 was “President
hails China aid.” The lead paragraph read, “President Mugabe
has applauded China for unconditionally extending a US$950
million credit facility to help Zimbabwe’s economic recovery
program and blasted the West for insisting on conditions even
as they render bits and pieces of aid to their agencies under
the guise of assisting the people of Zimbabwe.” The article
quoted Mugabe as saying the loan was the first tranche in a
$5 billion bridging package that had been negotiated four
years ago and it was “nonsense” that the MDC had secured any
loans from China.
¶5. (SBU) For years, ZANU-PF has trumpeted assistance from
China–assistance that never materializes. What is
disconcerting is that Tsvangirai, who returned from his
western trip with less concrete assistance than hoped for,
now appears to be playing the same game. The lack of
coordination between Tsvangirai and Biti is also troubling.
The bottom line is that until China can get investment
guarantees–non-existant in the current environment–material
Chinese assistance is extremely unlikely.