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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Zimbabwe signs China energy deal
Children scavenge for food in Zimbabwe
Zimbabweans are adopting increasingly desperate measures
China has signed a $1.3bn deal with Zimbabwe to help relieve an acute shortage of energy.

The Herald newspaper says Chinese companies will build new coal mines and three thermal power stations in the Zambezi valley on the Zambian border.

In exchange, Zimbabwe will provide China with chrome. Zimbabwe's Vice President, Joyce Mujuru, attended the signing ceremony in Beijing.

Zimbabwean industry suffers from hours of power cuts every day.

"Right now we are beginning to experience power shortages in the country," the state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Vice-President Mujuru as saying.

Zimbabwean officials and representatives of the China Machine-Building International Corporation (CMEC) signed the deal


President Robert Mugabe, who has been shunned by Western countries in recent years, embarked last year on a policy of strengthening ties with China.

Chinese companies are also to rebuild Zimbabwe's rail network and provide trains and buses.

Zimbabwe is suffering from shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. In April, inflation passed 1,000% per annum for the first time.

President Robert Mugabe blames domestic and foreign enemies for the problems, while his critics point to the collapse of agricultural exports following a controversial land reform programme.

The country is struggling to pay civil servants and is thought to owe money to neighbours such as South Africa and Mozambique from whom it has been importing electricity and fuel.

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