Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo told Radio VOP on Friday that parliament has taken over what used to be Quality International Hotel in a deal worth millions of dollars.
“We are taking over the hotel and want to convert it into a parliamentary hotel. It shall accommodate our parliamentarians whenever they are attending sessions,” said Moyo adding that the move would save government a lot of money which is currently being paid to hotels in Harare for the accommodation of the parliamentarians.
“It’s a step in the right direction for us and we are looking forward to the project which is currently ongoing”, added Moyo.
The hotel has been closed for over a year now since the take-over by the parliament of Zimbabwe.
A number of renovations are being put in place at the hotel which once served as a meeting place for both political parties and civic society groups.
Zimbabwean parliamentarians are used to staying in low star hotels as the august house battles to cut costs.
Apart from the hotel project the Zimbabwean government also issued a million dollar tender in 2007 to a Chinese construction company to build a new parliament at the top of a hill in central Harare.
The Chinese firm, Nangtong International, has been on site in Harare’s Kopje area where the new parliament will be built but work was halted following the transition from the Zimbabwean dollar to the multi-currency regime.
The deal which in 2007 was worth ZW $ 206 trillion has not yet been transited to the new financial reality.
Mugabe has cultivated relations with China as part of a new “Look-East” policy adopted after a fall out with Western countries that have imposed targeted sanctions on the Harare government as punishment for failing to uphold human rights and democracy.
China – on a drive to expand economic links with Africa – has since 2000 paid particular attention to Zimbabwe, selling Mugabe’s government fighter aircraft and agreeing to a number of business deals in exchange for mining and other concessions.
Zimbabwe’s present Parliament was built in 1895 as a hotel before being converted to a parliament in 1898. The structure of the building remained unchanged until 1937.
The chamber was enlarged between 1937 and 1938. In 1969, the building was raised to six stories. In 1989, the House of Assembly chamber was renovated to accommodate an additional fifty members. In 2000, the House of Parliament was further expanded when adjacent Pax House building was leased to it.
Apart from the hotel and parliament project the Chinese are also constructing a $90 million state of the art military college and hospital outside Harare.