Japan to release $20,5m Harare-Chirundu project

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Walter Muchinguri recently in Tokyo Japan

The Japanese Government is set to release the $20,5 million for the rehabilitation of the 6,5 km stretch of the Harare-Chirundu highway from the Hells Gate to the wildlife office soon, the Japanese Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kiyoto Tsuji has said.

Mr Tsuji said his Government was expecting work on the project, which will be completed in 2021 to start soon after.

He disclosed this during bilateral talks with the Special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Mr Stuart Comberbach and Zimbabwean ambassador to Japan Titus Abu Basutu on the sidelines of a two-day Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) ministerial meeting last Saturday.

According to Mr Comberbach, Mr Tsuji also said that the Japanese Government’s arm, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is implementing the project, was keen on a number of projects whose implementation he hoped would be accelerated.

“He however said whereas JICA would have wanted to do more over the years it has been constrained by the money, which our Government owes Japan,” said Mr Comberbach.

“Mr Tsuji said his Government was technically constrained by their own rules and regulations because we are indebted because of a loan we took a long while back for the Mazowe Satellite Station and digitalisation of or telecommunication network or part of it.”

Mr Comberbach said the debt was now falling under the Paris Club.

“We indicated that the issue of debt clearance is the top priority of the new dispensation and that it is the main focus of our new Minister of Finance to accelerate engagement not only with Japan but with the World Bank, African Development Bank and other debtors,” he said.

Notwithstanding the debt issue, Mr Tsuji, Mr Comberbach said, acknowledged the great potential that Zimbabwe has and the need for the Government to work to ensure that the potential is realised.

“He expressed his government’s hope that the elections are behind us and that we will embark on economic reforms that will, assist in turning the economy around to make Zimbabwe more attractive to the Japanese private sector,” he said.

Mr Tsuji he said indicated that they had been reluctant to invest in the country due to an unappealing investment climate, very complicated bureaucracy and regulations.

“We informed him that the Government’s primary focus now was on economic revival through engagement with all those we have been estranged over the years and doing what is necessary to do away with red tape, bureaucracy and policies that not only inhibited Japanese investment but that of other countries.

“We also explained that we have launched the Transitional Economic Stabilisation Programme containing economic measures that if effectively implemented will address a number of concerns not only identified by then but other investors,” he said.

“Mr Tsuji suggested that we should continue to engage them to broaden our relationship because as a world leader they can bring innovation, technology and expertise,” he said.

In addition, Mr Tsiju, he said urged Zimbabwe to focus on quick win areas such as the tourism sector.

“30 000 plus tourists from Japan visit Zimbabwe especially the Victoria Falls. He said this is a market in which we could do more because there is potential to attract considerably more tourists.

“The potential is certainly there if we market ourselves properly and spend a bit of money.”

Mr Comberbach said they discussed Japan’s concern over the UN Security Council reforms and the return of their nationals or repatriation of their nationals’ remains from North Korea.

Mr Tsiju also congratulated President Mnangagwa on his election victory and expressed hope that Zimbabwe would take part at the highest level in TICAD 7 set for Yokohama Japan next year.

The ministerial level meeting was also reviewing progress made under TICAD V and VI. It also sought to strengthen relations between African countries through bilateral trade.

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