President Mnangagwa salutes China for support in Covid-19 fight
Harare (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday commended China for capacitating African countries with medical and other non-medical supplies needed in the fight against Covid-19.
China has been at the forefront of helping African countries strengthen their Covid-19 responses by supplying much needed Personal Protective Equipment, medical supplies and testing kits.
In Zimbabwe for example, on top of plane loads of Covid-19 material, China funded the renovation of some hospitals in the country to enable them to cater for Coronavirus patients.
China has also dispatched its top Coronavirus experts to several African countries including Zimbabwe under a capacity building programme.
Further to this support, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday announced new support measures for African countries including cancellation of debts owed to the Asian economic powerhouse.
President Xi also pledged to ensure that Africa was among the first beneficiaries of a Covid-19 vaccine when it is found.
“Within the FOCAC framework, China will cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020. For those African countries that are hardest hit by the Coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension, to help them tide over the current difficulty. We encourage Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles to work out arrangements for commercial loans with sovereign guarantees,” President Xi told the extraordinary China-Africa Summit on solidarity against Covid-19 held via video conference.
China also pledged to engage the international community, especially developed countries and multilateral financial institutions, to consider debt relief and suspension for Africa while also working with the UN, WHO and other partners to assist Africa’s response to Covid-19.
In response, President Mnangagwa, who participated in the virtual summit along with a host of other African leaders, commended China for its latest stance in support of Africa.
He said the latest support by China would cushion most African countries given the economic ramifications brought on by Covid-19.
“In my country and indeed our Sadc region, we anticipate a contraction in our GDPs. We warmly welcome China’s decision and commitment to suspend debt servicing by developing countries under the G20 initiative,” he said.
“We welcome the initiatives announced by His Excellency President Xi Jinping to continue assisting developing countries in the fight against the pandemic.”
President Mnangagwa said China had demonstrated its unwavering commitment towards Africa even when it was still faced with the deadly disease.
“We remain most grateful for the assistance that continues to be extended to us by the government of the Peoples Republic of China towards the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. In the case of Zimbabwe, the provision of medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment for front-line workers among other material support helped our preparedness and response mechanisms.
“The regular sharing of information between the government of the Peoples Republic of China and my government has been invaluable. This collaboration culminated in a visit to Zimbabwe by the Chinese medical team of experts whose observations and recommendations bolstered our strategies for the prevention and control of the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Xi said the sudden onslaught of Covid-19 had taken a heavy toll on countries around the world.
He thanked Africa for also rendering its support towards China, when it was first hit by the virus.
“In the face of Covid-19, China and Africa have enhanced solidarity and strengthened friendship and mutual trust. Let me reaffirm China’s commitment to its longstanding friendship with Africa. No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China shall never waver in its determination to pursue greater solidarity and cooperation with Africa,” he said.
He said although progress was being registered in slowing down infections and deaths globally, a formidable task to eradicate the disease still lay ahead.
“Both China and Africa face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilizing the economy and protecting people’s livelihoods. We must always put our people and their lives front and centre. We must mobilize necessary resources, stick together in collaboration, and do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives and health and minimize the fallout of Covid-19.”
President Xi added: “China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response to Covid-19. China will lose no time in following through on the measures I announced at the opening of the World Health Assembly, and continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams, and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China. China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa Centre for Diseases Control headquarters this year.
“China will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals. Together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all. We pledge that once the development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.”