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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 15:59 GMT
Chinese firm 'awarded Zimbabwean land'
damage at farm after seizure
Food production has stopped at seized farms
Land seized from white farmers in Zimbabwe is going to be given to a Chinese utility firm, according to state media reports in Zimbabwe.

China International Water and Electric Corporation has reportedly been awarded a tender to grow crops on 100,000 hectars and help ease the food shortage.

Professor Tony Hawkins at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare said President Mugabe had turned to other countries to help it alleviate some of its many problems.

Zimbabwe has signed agreements with Libya for oil, Malaysia for foreign investment and trade and now China to farm its land.

But none of the deals seem to have any long-term effect.

Desperate measures

"It's all snatching at straws," Professor Hawkins told the BBC's World Business Report.
You'll find a number of African countries that say the future in terms of trade and investment is coupled with Asia

Professor Tony Hawkins

"The Libyan example with oil is classic - over time, the shortage has become more severe," he said.

The Malaysian trade agreement is highlighted in the state media every three or four months but the foreign currency position keeps getting worse.

"Obviously the Malaysian trade package is not achieving very much - if anything," he said.

Turning east

The moves are also seen as Zimbabwe trying to gain help from Asian countries at the expense of the West.

"You'll find a number of African countries that say the future in terms of trade and investment is coupled with Asia," he said.

He believes the reaction of Zimbabweans to the prospect of foreigners arriving to take over the farms will be hostile.

Zimbabwe's permanent secretary at the Ministry of Land and Agriculture did not respond to questions about the land transfer.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Professor Tony Hawkins, University of Zimbabwe
"It's all snatching at straws."
See also:

09 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
17 Sep 02 | Africa
14 Sep 02 | Africa
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