China to build new Zim parliament for free – report

Harare - China is to build Zimbabwe a new parliament building for free, the state broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

An envoy of the Chinese president has presented construction plans for the new building to President Robert Mugabe, ZBC said.

There are no details of when construction on former farmland in Mount Hampden will start. Mount Hampden is about 17km from the capital.

This is not the first time that plans for a new Chinese-built parliament have been mooted, but it is the first time the project has been clearly identified as a "gift". 

The Zimbabwe Independent reported late last year that 100 families were being moved from the site. Most were reportedly war veterans who moved onto the farm in 2000.

Said ZBC: "The new parliament building will be built in Mount Hampden, just outside Harare, by the Chinese government for free."

Mugabe's government says the new building is necessary because the current parliament is too big for the colonial-era building in central Harare.

Critics say cash-strapped Zimbabwe cannot afford the 210 legislators who make up the lower house alone, especially as they are entitled to new cars and other allowances.

Mugabe, 92, calls the Chinese Zimbabwe's "all-weather friends". Chinese companies have been involved in the key diamond-mining and road-construction sectors. But earlier this month he was unusually critical of Chinese businessmen operating in Zimbabwe, accusing them of not banking their money in the country.

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