Controversy shrouds bilateral support figures released by the Zimbabwean government last week during the 2020 National Budget following a revelation by the Chinese Embassy this morning refuting figures presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube.
The error, whether by omission or by commission presents serious confidence decimating issues in the Zimbabwean government which is yet to respond to the corrections as cited.
In the 2020 National Budget Statement, Treasury said the Chinese bilateral support to Zimbabwe during the period January to September 2019 amounted to US$ 3.631,500.
Yet in a statement this morning, Chinese Embassy said it disbursed bilateral support to the country to the tune of US$ 136.8 million, a mismatch of over US$ 133 million.
"The Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Zimbabwe has taken note of the release of 2020 National Budget Statement by the Zimbabwean government. The Embassy appreciates the positive role the budget will play in promoting the policies and propagating the facts and figures related to the economic development of the country,"
"In the meantime, the Embassy has noted that in the statement, among Development Partner Support (on Page 51) received by the Zimbabwean government through bilateral channels, the figure of bilateral support provided by China to Zimbabwe is 3,631,500 USD. 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 136.8 million USD. Such a figure does not include the other bilateral supports such as the expense of expert assistance, Embassy's donations to local vulnerable groups and so on," read the statement from the Embassy.
The Embassy went on to advise relevant departments of the Zimbabwean government to make comprehensive assessments on the statistics of bilateral supports and accurately reflect its actual situation when formulating budget statement.
The Chinese support if confirmed will make China the country's biggest bilateral support partner ahead of the USA, UK and European Union.
Efforts by this publication to get clarity from the government spokesperson, Nick Mangagwa were fruitless as his phone was not reachable.
The development is a major blow to Zimbabwean government efforts for re-engagement as this is likely to prompt external partners tread carefully when dealing with the government.
Already, there is a plethora of corruption scandals that have rocked Zimbabwe's public sector finances in recent times which are yet to be resolved- and market watchers are skeptical of government.
They say this is likely to affect investor confidence in the country.