Zimbabweans will soon be able to shop in yuan after their government announced it will adopt the Chinese currency following Beijing’s cancellation of $40 million in debt.
China has become the largest investor in Zimbabwe, which has been shunned by the West over its human rights record and is struggling to emerge from a deep recession which began in 1999.
“They [China] said they are cancelling our debts that are maturing this year and we are in the process of finalising the debt instruments and calculating the debts,” minister Patrick Chinamasa said in a statement.
Zimbabwe abandoned its own dollar in 2009 after hyperinflation tore through the country, rendering the currency unusable. The country has since made do with a patchwork of foreign currencies including the US Dollar, Euro and South African Rand.
According to The Guardian, the Chinese yuan had already been added to the basket of foreign currencies used since 2009, but until now it had not been approved for public transactions.
The deal marks the second major China-related coup for Mugabe in 2015 having already been named this year’s winner of the Confucius Peace Prize, China’s alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize.
The award would have seen Mugabe take his place alongside esteemed laureates such as Vladmir Putin (2011), Kofi Annan (2012) and Fidel Castro (2014), although the Zimbabwean strongman decided he couldn’t be bothered to turn up to the ceremony after finding out that the award wasn’t officially sanctioned by Beijing.