Chinese Debt: Mthuli Ncube lied to us, says Markham


Chinese Debt: Mthuli Ncube lied to us, says Markham

Harare North Legislator Norman Markham has accused Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube of tabling wrong information on the country’s debt to China and demanded to be furnished with correct figures.  

Finance Minister in August this year, told Parliament that the country owed China about US$2,7 billion and that it had made some repayments leaving the outstanding balance at US$1.7 billion.

A figure which the Honourable Markham has contested.

“I am afraid and worried Hon. Speaker, about his (Finance Minister) figures that he reported to us in the House.

“I was in the office checking on the figures to make sure there were no typos.

“His figures do not balance by $873 million that he gave us.  He gave us a rough figure of $2.7 billion that we owe the Chinese Government, of which we have repaid $153 million not billion. 

“So the outstanding balance if you take those two figures apart, he says $1.7 billion, it is not, it is $2.64 billion that we still owe them. 

“To me, that is a shocking revelation purely because we are not thinking that the Hon. Minister did not check his figures, we are talking of a national debt here. 

“The figure of the loan is actually understated by $71 million. I have checked that personally. 

“The repayment is overstated by $200 000 and the total difference is $873 400 000.

“My concern now Mr. Speaker is if these figures are wrong like this, it worries me because yesterday we were supposed to get a full turn out of ministers but we did not and it just worries me that we are getting feedback of this information that is not correct. 

“I thought the Minister is unwittingly fed this information or we have been fed a lot of rubbish,” Markham.

CSOs Have Recommended Debt Audits

In April this year, the Zimbabwe Coalition On Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) issued a statement that recommended the need to conduct comprehensive debt audits, public debt registers as well as legal reforms to limit debt contraction without parliamentary oversight.

ZIMCODD argues that the absence of debt audits had led to a lack of openness about the use of borrowed money, which had a detrimental effect on the provision of public services.

Furthermore, former finance minister Tendai Biti has blamed Ncube for failing to table before parliament the list of public debt incurred by the country.

Chinese Debt: Mthuli Ncube lied to us, says Markham