By Leopold Munhende
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube Friday refused to disclose how much exactly Zimbabwe has received through bilateral support by the Chinese government after the Asian giant this week issued an embarrassing rebuttal of Ncube’s 2020 budget claims Zimbabwe benefited only US$3,6 million from China.
China, often referred to by Zimbabwean authorities as the troubled country’s “all weather friend”, accused the Treasury boss of understating its contributions to the Zimbabwean economy.
In his budget, Ncube reported that Zimbabwe has benefited US$3,6 from the economic giant but the Chinese embassy came in to claim the grant infact, stood at US$136, 8 million.
Responding to questions in front of China’s Deputy Ambassador Xhao Baogang whom he was forced to meet as soon as he returned from a business trip in Dubai, Ncube refused to share the exact figure the two countries finally agreed on.
“On the bilateral figures, that issue is closed. We have agreed. There is no further conversation on that issue.
“China has done phenomenally well by supporting us, but that issue is closed,” said Ncube.
The government official said the mix-up of figures was just an accounting matter.
“The issue really was about the accounting systems and we have agreed on the figures. That is why I said the issue is closed.
“If I were you, I would not really be worried about that,” he said to journalists.
The Chinese embassy said in a statement, “The Embassy has noted that in the (budget) statement, among Development Partner Support received by the Zimbabwean government through bilateral channels, the figure of bilateral support provided by China to Zimbabwe is US$3 631 500. This is very different from the actual situation on the ground.
“According to our record, from January to September 2019, the actual bilateral support provided to Zimbabwe by China is US$136, 8 million.
“Such a figure does not include the other bilateral supports such as the expense of expert assistance, embassy donations to local vulnerable groups and so on.”