Chinese army donates $4.2 million to Zimbabwe Defence Forces


The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has donated $4.2 million to fund various military projects which include the developmental, training and equipment acquisition needs of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).

The donation was announced last month after the signing of an agreement in terms of which the PLA will be providing various ‘grants’ to support the ZDF, which is one of the key institutions of State which have been placed under Western economic sanctions for the last 13 years.

The grant agreement was signed by ZDF commander General Constantine Chiwenga and the PLA Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Qi Jianguo during the first visit to Harare by a top-ranking PLA officer since the strengthening of bi-lateral defence relations between the countries began over a decade ago.

Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who met the PLA chief and his delegation before the signing ceremony, said the donation underlines the solid relationship between the two armies.
“We were able to discuss co-operation between the two countries in the defence sector. We also discussed future defence co-operation programmes and it all went very well. There are various other projects which are being studied and explored and will be funded by the PLA in the defence and other sectors. You will be advised as soon as we have concrete plans for those,” Sekeramayi said.
“General officers and men of the PLA admire the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, especially your Commander-In-Chief President Robert Mugabe who has managed to stand against the Western machinations to destabilise the African continent,” Jianguo said.

The defence and diplomatic relationship between the two countries has grown in bounds since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe’s government fell out with its traditional Western supporters over the controversial land seizure programme and adopted a ‘Look East Policy’ which provides for preferential diplomatic relations with China, East European and Asian nations.

Since then, China has donated and sold military equipment which includes Karakorum K-8 jets, Harbin Z-9 helicopters, tanks, Hong-Deng troop carriers, ground-based military radar systems, aerial defence systems, small arms, ammunition and police equipment.

The Chinese government also provided $98 million to fund the construction of the National Defence College, which was completed last year and now serves as a regional training centre for military officers.

The ZDF’s partnership with the PLA also extends into diamond mining, coal mining, rare earth mining and power generation.