Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has been ordered by the High Court to publish the terms and conditions of the loans entered into between the government and the Chinese Africa Export and Import Bank (China Exim Bank).
The Minister had failed to reveal the details in the agreements with the Chinese entity despite pressure from various quarters to reveal them.
This followed suspicions that government has been ratcheting up multiple bad debts with the Chinese sometimes using land and minerals.
However on Wednesday Justice Zhou, ruling in case brought by legislator Rusty Markham and Water Alliance, ruled that government was wrong.
“(Its) failure to publish terms of loans and guarantees it concluded with Africa Export Import Bank or other financiers from 2017 to date within 60 days of their conclusions is a violation of Section 300 (3) of the Constitution and Section 18 (2) of the Public Debt Management Act”.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who represented the applicants added that High Court Judge Zhou said the details of the loan agreements, “should be published in an Extraordinary Government Gazette by 30 January 2021 showing loans and guarantees borrowed or transacted between 2017 to Nov 2020”.
Among various other interventions the China Exim Bank previously funded the rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward water treatment works, and the Crowborough and Firle sewage treatments plants.
A Buyer Credit Loan Agreement of US$144, 425,947 was signed between the government of Zimbabwe and the bank in 2011 but the full details were not revealed.
In 2019 Masvingo City Council also sought a US$60 million loan from the China Exim Bank.
China In Africa
Chinese involvement in Africa, through extending loans to local governments, has unsettled many critics who have accused it of exerting a new form of colonialism.
Its laissez-faire approach, disregarding the political climate or human rights issues has meant that many African leaders are eager to work with China than with the traditional Western nations or organisations.
However the Asian giant has been known to create stringent conditions relating to the repayment of the loans leading to many African states suffering later.