OPPOSITION MPs yesterday called for Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi’s scalp, accusing him of running down the ministry and being a disservice to the country’s foreign diplomatic missions.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The MPs made the call after they were shown embarrassing slide shows of the decay at Zimbabwean embassies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Gaborone, Botswana.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) displayed the embarrassing pictures of the embassy in Ethiopia showing a leaking roof, naked electrical cables in some rooms, broken window panes, paint on walls peeling off and very archaic computers and vehicles.
Pictures of the Zimbabwean embassy were juxtaposed with modern-looking embassies of other countries such as Chad, Malawi, Rwanda, Gambia and Equatorial Guinea in Ethiopia.
“The committee noted with profound sadness that the embassy buildings in the two countries are in such a deplorable state of dilapidation to the extent that they are actually unsuitable for human habitation and occupancy,” Paradza said.
“At both embassies, visitors are greeted by cracked and crumbling walls, which at best resemble an abandoned building.
“Meanwhile, our embassy continues to rent the official residence of the ambassador at a cost of $4 500 per month totalling $54 000 per year.
“Monthly rentals for the 10 houses occupied by diplomats are $27 300 ($327 600 per year) and rental arrears stood at $89 400. In Gaborone, Ambassador Thomas Mandigora’s utility vehicle was bought in 2000 when Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko was still ambassador.”
MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Proportional Representation) proposed closure of some embassies, adding some of the vehicles issued to ministers should be repossessed and given to embassy officials at foreign missions.
Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa and James Maridadi (Mabvuku-Tafara) — both MDC-T — described the embassies as a reflection of the poor state of affairs in the country, adding Mumbengegwi must be immediately fired for incompetence.
The Leader of the House, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, assured MPs that government was working on the matter.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa, who also oversees the Justice ministry, said a number of laws such as the Marriage Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Children’s Act would be amended to outlaw child marriages.