Chinese officials have presented President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe with three construction designs of the proposed new parliament building for Zimbabwean lawmakers.
The new parliament building is a donation from the Chinese government. Zimbabwean state broadcaster theZBC reports that the new parliament will be built in Mount Hampden about 17 km from the capital, Harare.
Zimbabwean authorities say they need a new parliament because the present one is overcrowded, since the number of congressmen in parliament has expanded from 210 to 270.
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For the new site, the Zimbabwean government plans to resettle nearly 100 farming families; most of the present occupants are war veterans who moved in to the area back in 2000. Work on the new project is expected to commence next year.
The new building is expected to cost $145 million and funding from the Chinese would come in tranches. The Zimbabwean Herald reports that the Chinese government has committed $46 million to the first phase of the project.
The new location would include comfortable houses for lawmakers, a commercial district, hotels, and recreational areas.
Observers have wondered if Zimbabwean authorities and their Chinese benefactors are setting their priorities right, considering the fact that Zimbabwe has been hit by a devastating economic downturn in recent times and has to deal with a lot more pressing issues than a new parliament building.
Following years of misrule and controversial policies, Zimbabwe is largely considered a pariah state by the international community, particularly Western countries that have slammed the nation hard with economic sanctions and denied the country of foreign aid.
China, however, remains one of Zimbabwe’s biggest international partners, constituting nearly 82 percent of Zimbabwe’s foreign investment.
In December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Zimbabwe and signed 10 landmark economic agreements, including plans to invest $2.1 billion in Zimbabwe to improve the power supply.