CHINA yesterday donated 85 vehicles to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- 45 buses and 40 executive MG6 saloons -- to ensure the smooth running of Government business.
Some of the vehicles were distributed to Government ministries and departments such as the CMED and the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Speaking at the handover of the vehicles, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the donation will help Government replace its old fleet.
"This is a most thoughtful donation coming as it does at a time when the Government of Zimbabwe is grappling with the urgent need to replace obsolete vehicles in the various ministries and departments.
"Thus, this donation comprising of executive MG6 saloons and luxury buses, should go a very long way in enabling my ministry as well as other ministries and departments to effectively and timeously execute Government programmes and projects. For this, I thank you China, you are a friend indeed," he said.
Minister Mumbengegwi said the vehicles were a welcome relief to Government.
He said the ministry was facing transport challenges for its staff and visiting delegations.
Minister Mumbengegwi said the donation was the biggest vehicle donation his ministry had received to date.
He urged the two Chinese companies, Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry Company and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation -- that manufactured the vehicles to consider setting assembly plants in Zimbabwe.
"I have been informed that both companies have long-term plans not only to set up service centres for the vehicles but also to set up dealerships here in Zimbabwe.
"I would like to encourage them to go further and seriously consider assembling the vehicles locally for both the Zimbabwean and the regional markets," he said.
Minister Mumbengegwi said the donation of the vehicles came soon after another donation of 600 tonnes of food by the Chinese government.
He said the donation was worthy the cause considering that some parts of the country were experiencing food deficits.
Minister Mumbengegwi took the opportunity to thank the outgoing Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Xin Shunkang, for his sterling efforts in ensuring that relations between Harare and Beijing were strengthened.
"He (Ambassador Xin) was an ambassador who has committed and dedicated himself to helping Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans with such energy, creativity and enthusiasm.
"Mr Ambassador, you had been part and parcel of the Zimbabwean community. Everybody had come to know you, Mr Chakanaka Chakanaka, and you have lived up to your name throughout," he said.
Ambassador Xin said the donation showed the strength of relations between Zimbabwe and China.
"Last month the Chinese government donated US$14 million worth of food assistance to Zimbabwe. One month later, that is today, we are donating 40 cars, 35 buses and 10 concierge buses to you. Next week there will be another donation ceremony.
"At that ceremony we will donate 50 computers to Zimbabwe and office equipment for the Senate and House of Assembly. From all these donations we can find out how close our relations are," he said.