THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs has called on the government to allow Zimbabwean embassies to retain some of the fees they collect to fund day-to-day operations including renovating their buildings.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Committee chairman Kindness Paradza recently made the recommendation in Parliament after presenting an embarrassing report about the poor state of buildings at Zimbabwean embassies in Ethiopia and Botswana.
Some government departments like the Registrar-General’s Office, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Immigration Department retain some of the funds they collect as fees.
“The Executive must urgently release funds towards the construction of new embassy buildings or the maintenance of the deteriorating physical infrastructure, technical and office equipment,” read the Foreign Affairs committee report.
“The committee further recommends that Treasury should liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs for the creation of a retention account with an agreed percentage of the revenue collected by foreign missions and use this money in the maintenance of the country’s properties abroad.”
Mazowe South MP Fortune Chasi (Zanu PF) suggested that there was need to streamline personnel at embassies and to ensure each embassy justified its existence as a cost-cutting measure.
Zimbabwe has 39 foreign missions and consulates, some of which were in countries that rarely do business with Zimbabwe, although it has been failing to maintain them and to pay staff.
During the 2015 National Budget presentation, the embassies in Ethiopia and Botswana were said to have requested a budget of $2,1 million to cover salaries, recurrent and capital expenditure, but they only received $402 000, which was only 24% of the requested amount.
Meanwhile, Paradza yesterday said he was not among “overzealous party legislators” who were recently ordered to tone down by Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo.
Paradza said Chombo was referring to the likes of Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna, whom Chombo accused of getting “too excited” in Parliament by asking tough questions to “expose” Cabinet ministers.
This comes amid reports that top Zanu PF officials were miffed by their juniors who posed tough questions calculated at exposing them during Parliament’s questions without notice sessions.
“Chombo named Nduna and not me. As for the report, yes, it was factual. That is the reason Cabinet acted on it,” Paradza said.