Zimbabwe Takes Ownership of New Parliament Built by China

China Gifts Zimbabwe New Parliament Building (News Central TV)
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa as they pose for the media after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China April 3, 2018. Parker Song/Pool via REUTERS

As Beijing seeks to bolster its influence over Zimbabwe, China has given the southern African nation a new contemporary Parliament building to replace the one it now has, which was established during the colonial era.

The massive facility, which occupies 33,000 square metres, is made up of a four-story building that houses the National Assembly and Senate and a six-story office complex.

The two buildings are connected by three bridges on each story. The Senate chamber has 150 seats, while the National Assembly has 400.

Additionally, it features 15 committee rooms, conference rooms, staff offices, and a parking lot. The 600 rooms in the office complex would house staff members and members of parliament.

The new Parliament building is situated at Mt. Hampden, about 18 kilometres from Harare city center, where the previous chambers stand, and was constructed by Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) with full funding from the Chinese government as “a present to the people of Zimbabwe.”

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SCG finished the buildings in 42 months, which was 10 months later than expected due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“There will be no doubt that the new Parliament building will become a landmark building in Zimbabwe and even in the whole of southern Africa,” said Cai Libo, the SCG project manager.

He said the building would be handed over to the Zimbabwean government. “The project strongly supports democracy in Zimbabwe while boosting the country’s image,” he said.

“This building is a landmark building in Zimbabwe,” he added. “This is a show of a solid friendship between China and Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe intends to construct additional infrastructure close to the new Parliament to relieve the city’s congestion. It will have executive branch and judicial branch offices, as well as commercial and residential sectors.

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Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the new Parliament building is a symbol of “deep relations” between Zimbabwe and China.

“This is an amazing building which has been made possible by a grant from the People’s Republic of China, which shows the deep relations between the two countries,” Mrs Mutsvangwa said.

“This will enable the legislature to do their work, and as you are aware, they have three mandates which are representative, making legislation and oversight.”

Following the construction of the largest stadium in Zimbabwe by Beijing in 1987, the Parliament building is the country’s second significant infrastructure “gift” by China.

The National Sports Stadium, with 60,000 seats in the nation’s capital of Harare, was prohibited by the Confederation of African Football from hosting international football matches due to poor upkeep.

China is also spending an estimated $1.2 billion modernizing the largest thermal power plant in the nation. The largest hydropower facility in the nation, Kariba South, underwent a $533 million renovation.

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Due to its shoddy repayment history, China is the only economic powerhouse ready to give loans to Harare. Zimbabwe has an external debt of $14.4 billion and is severely indebted to it.

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