US Says Zimbabwe Understated Financial Support in National Budget

US Deputy Ambassador Thomas Hastings

A senior United States official working in Zimbabwe has questioned development aid figures released recently by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in the 2020 national budget statement, saying the funds are less than what his country provided in the 2019 financial year.

In an interview in Masvingo on Tuesday, Deputy Ambassador Thomas Hastings, said the amount of financial aid to Zimbabwe this year was understated by the government.

“… They recently released the total amount of money that we gave in 2019, it was about $330 million. So, it was a bit more than it was in the budget report that’s the total amount that includes our work with PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), it includes work that we have provided this year for food relief, people who are faced with food insecurity because of the drought and other causes it includes drought and any other causes and it also includes the assistance that was given to people who suffered the consequences of Cyclone Idai. So, putting all the numbers together it was over $330 million this year.”

Thomas said Zimbabwean authorities should include all the development aid provided by the United States in 2019.

Deputy Ambassador Thomas Hastings seen in Job Sikhala’s house

“Well, it’s important to include all of the programs and that’s why we recently put the information out there to make sure that the total amount of our assistance was made on to the people of Zimbabwe.”

He could not be drawn to comment on suggestions that the undervaluing of the development aid provided by the Zimbabwean government was being deliberately done by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

“I don’t know about that, you have to talk to the Ministry of Finance about how they came up with all those numbers … when you take the amount of work we do with health, with food assistance and Cyclone Idai and emergency relief, that’s how much it totaled.”

In the budget statement, Ncube indicated that Zimbabwe this year obtained development support from USA amounting to $252,722,653.

Information secretary Nick Mangwana and Finance Minister Ncube were unavailable for comment as they were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.

The Chinese government recently questioned figures indicating that they provided only $3,631,500 for development support instead of over $136 million.

In response, the Zimbabwean government promised to look into the issue. In a statement posted on the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services’ Twitter handle, the government said, “Govt has noted the query raised by @ChineseZimbabwe regarding bilateral aid figures captured in the 2020 National Budget Statement. Necessary consultations are underway to establish a common accounting position. We thank the Chinese Govt for their support.” – VOA