HomeNewsForeign-based Zim diplomats owed $40m

Foreign-based Zim diplomats owed $40m

-

Zimbabwean foreign-based embassies are in dire straits with diplomats not paid for eight months as government owes close to $40 million for services rendered and salaries, it has emerged.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

This was disclosed by Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Epworth MP Amos Midzi.

Bimha told the committee that government owed foreign embassy staff $6,6 million salary arrears up to December 2014, $32,6 million arrears for operational expenses, and $376 900 school fees refunds for children of staff at the 46 diplomatic missions and consulates.

“The situation at our missions is really a reflection of our liquidity challenges, and it affects our operations and the welfare of our officers, as well as state of affairs of our buildings, motor vehicles and officers’ salaries,” Bimha said.

“We have not been receiving the exact amounts that we are supposed to receive each month because in 2013, we had a situation where Treasury used to give us $4,1 million each month to cater for salaries, operations, rent, utilities, medicals and other expenses, but in 2014 that situation did not obtain.”

Bimha said embassy staff were getting salaries that were less than what they were supposed to get, adding the conditions of some buildings, ambassadors’ residences and vehicles were so deplorable that they had to close some buildings and residences since they were no longer habitable.

“We have encouraged officers to send their children to schools in Zimbabwe and we pay full boarding and tuition fees as an attraction. Those that prefer to send their children at schools in countries where they are posted are paid 75% school fees for primary school children and 25% for secondary school children,” he said.

“Buildings are no longer habitable and what is even worse about this issue is that our embassies are supposed to be the face of Zimbabwe in the international community It portrays a bad image about the country.”

Bimha said vehicles used by ambassadors were too old. The cited vehicles he himself used in 1996 while still a diplomat in Paris which was now being used by the current ambassador.

“The ambassador there had to at times use public transport because the vehicles were not maintained. Seventy percent of our motor vehicles need replacement and because of financial challenges, there is little we can do about those vehicles,” Bimha said.

Hurungwe North MP Rueben Marumahoko asked Bimha to explain why his embassy officers missed salary payments when they were civil servants, whereas civil servants had not yet missed salaries?

“That is a question for Treasury because I use what I am given by Treasury. If I am not given that money, there is nothing I can do,” Bimha replied.

Makonde MP Kindness Paradza said it was time Bimha thought outside the box to support embassies.

But Bimha said they had no capacity to generate funds as a ministry.

Marumahoko alleged some ambassadors preferred to pay rentals instead of salaries owed to staff, but Bimha said this was not the case.

He said over the years, his ministry had been unfortunate in that they received 55% of their budgetary allocations, making it difficult to operate.

Midzi said the situation at embassies was not good for national security and the image of the country as unpaid staff might be forced to sell secrets, adding an option would be to close some embassies.

But, Bimha said closing embassies was even more costly as they would have to pay all the arrears owed and relocation costs of staff.
Currently, four embassies, Mozambique, Moscow, Japan and London have vacancies for ambassadors.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading