Zimbabwe's new finance minister Mthuli Ncube has reportedly announced that the government is planning to reduce the number of the country's foreign missions from the current 46.According to New Zimbabwe.com, during his budget speech last week, Ncube said that the government this year alone ran a $15 million deficit through expenditure directed at foreign missions. "Currently, Zimbabwe has diplomatic presence at 46 Embassies and Consulates, staffed by around 581 home based and locally recruited staff. The above diplomatic presence is currently imposing annual budgetary levels of around $65 million, which is above available 2018 budget capacity of $50 million. "Government has resolved to reduce the number of foreign missions, thereby optimising the utility value realised from the remaining missions as well as avoiding accumulation of arrears and embarrassing evictions of our diplomats," Ncube was quoted as saying. Ncube, however, did not say which or how many embassies were going to be shut down, an AFP report said. Cash problems The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted the country's foreign affairs and international trade minister Sibusiso Moyo as saying, in January, that the government was in the process of clearing its debt in respect of salaries, rentals and other running cost for its various embassies as it tried to rebuild its image internationally. Moyo said at the time that there was a need for the country's 46 embassies to perform and meet key result areas to justify why they shouldn't be closed. "We're reviewing the position of all embassies and it's high time they must perform in a measurable manner. Government incurs a lot of costs in running embassies so they must justify their existence," Moyo was quoted as saying.In May 2017, Zimbabwean lawmakers urged the then president Robert Mugabe-led government to consider shutting down some of the embassies due to cash problems. Reports indicated at the time that Mugabe's administration had failed to pay some diplomats and staff their salaries for months. Staff at the Zimbabwean embassy in Malawi, for instance, complained of abuses, alleging that they had not received their salaries since December 2016.* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTERFOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook.