Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube once again avoided providing the actual figures of the total Chinese bilateral support to Zimbabwe this year, instead telling reporters not to bother themselves about the issue.
Ncube understated the figure by a margin of around US$ 133 million in his official figures presented in the 2020 National budget last week prompting interest from all quarters of the country’s citizenry on what the exact figure is.
Yet this morning while addressing reporters at his offices, Ncube who is on record advocating for transparency in public funds management chose to be unresponsive upon being quizzed on the issue.
“That issue is closed, we have agreed, if you are asking specifically there is no conversation on that issue. We appreciate all the support we have received from all our bilateral partners, China has done phenomenally well on supporting us, that issue is closed, thank you very much,” he said.
Upon further inquiry into the matter by reporters, the Minister still minced his words.
“The issue really was about the accounting methods, the accounting system and both sides have agreed on the best way to do that accounting. We agreed on the figures that’s why I said the issue is closed. So if I were you I won’t bother with this issue too much. If I were you I wouldn’t bother myself with it,” said an evidently unsettled Ncube.
In the National budget, the Minister said Chinese support since January to September this year amounted to US$ 3.631.500, an understatement to the Chinese Embassy figure of US$ 136.8 million.
The continuous avoidance to present the factual figures in public has not only sparked widespread resentment over the Minister’s attitude but also exposed government’s lack of transparency and accountability in managing public funds.