HARARE – Construction finances of a new Parliament building in Mt Hampden have raised suspicion over the credibility of Finance Minister’s 2019 budget.
Zimbabwe is set to receive $165 million of Chinese aid for the full construction of a new, yet Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has allocated $3.8 million in the 2019 National Budget to bankroll construction of the same building.
This comes just after President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday commissioned the construction of the new Legislature in Mt Hampden, 25km west of the capital Harare, by Chinese firm Shanghai Construction Group.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, President Mnangagwa said the country received a grant from China to bankroll the full construction the new Parliament, in what he described as a pointer to good Sino-Zimbabwe relations.
“This is not a loan from the Republic of China, it’s a grant that they extended to us,” Mnangagwa said.
Acting Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Zhang Baogang, said his government has committed to fully fund construction of the largest building built by the Chinese government in Zimbabwe.
Despite commitment by the Chinese government to fully fund the project, Ncube announced that he allocated 3.8 million towards the construction of the same building.
“I further commit funding of US$3.8 million under the 2019 budget for enabling works for commencement of the construction of the new Parliament building which will be situated in Mt Hampden,” Ncube said.
Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi said there was nothing amiss about Ncube’s allocation.
“The $3,8 million injected by the Finance minister is meant for auxiliary costs such as land surveys, development of basic infrastructure, amongst others which are not covered by the Chinese. Just because the Chinese are funding the project, it does not mean we are not making any effort,” he said.
“The project, worth $165 million, is fully-funded by the Chinese. It is part of the mega deals which President Emmerson Mnangagwa clinched when he visited China,” Mutodi said.
The new Parliament building will be 650-seater edifice, and will replace the Harare CBD colonial relic which is failing to accommodate all the 350 MPs and staff members.
The new Parliament will comprise additional facilities for conferencing, 12 committee rooms and adequate space for office staff and parking.
Mnangagwa said the long-awaited new building will enable parliamentarians to fully execute their legislative roles and further entrench democratic tenets in the country. Baogang said the Chinese government has so far injected $1,2 billion to Zimbabwe to finance various projects including the Robert Mugabe International Airport and rehabilitation NetOne.
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