HARARE– Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday toured the completed new parliament building in Mount Hampden, about 18 km northwest of the capital Harare.

The new building was constructed and fully funded by China as a gift to the southern African country. 

He said the iconic building, sitting on the historical Mt. Hampden Hill, is a heritage for future Zimbabwean generations. 

Accompanied by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Mnangagwa marveled at the imposing six-story building that is a fine piece of magnificent architecture that fuses both Zimbabwean and Chinese characteristics. 

His visit came on the heels of various tours of the building that have been done by senior government and parliament officials in recent weeks, following its completion.

Mnangagwa took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Chinese government for fulfilling its promise to construct the new parliament building and other various infrastructure projects that are at different stages of completion. 

He thanked the Chinese contractor, Shanghai Construction Group, for the splendid job done despite COVID-19 disruptions. 

“This is the most significant building I have ever seen and it resembles our Zimbabwe birds and other iconic features. This is heritage for future generations,” Mnangagwa said. 

Shanghai Construction Group project manager Cai Libo expressed joy at the completion of the project. 

“We are happy about the President and his team’s visit. We appreciate that he is impressed with this great work which is a result of all-weather friendship between our two countries,” Cai said. 

It took 44 months to complete the project, instead of the original 32-month timeframe due to COVID-19 disruptions.

Completion of the new parliament building, whose architecture borrows heavily from the iconic Great Zimbabwe ruins, heralds the start of a new capital city as the Zimbabwean government plans to put up offsite infrastructure such as residential areas, shopping centers and access roads to establish a self-contained new city to decongest the capital Harare. 

The government also plans to put structures for two other arms of the state, the executive and the judiciary in Mt. Hampden. 

The imposing building covers a total area of 33,000 square meters and has two main buildings, a six-story office building and a four-story parliament building.

The office building and parliament building are connected by three bridges on each floor.

With the current parliament building having been built during the colonial era and now old and small to accommodate parliament business, the National Assembly at the New Parliament building has more than enough space, with a capacity of 400 seats against the 270 House of Assembly members. 

The new Senate chamber has a capacity of 150 seats, against the current 80 Senate members. 

The new structure has extra facilities for conferencing, 15 committee rooms and adequate space for office staff and parking. 

The office building contains 600 rooms, among them offices for VIP, members of parliament and parliament officials, among others. In total, the building has the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people. – Xinhua