DIPLOMATS at Zimbabwe’s 45 foreign missions might soon find themselves homeless, as they have been issued with eviction notices over rental arrears amounting to $7 million.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This was revealed by Foreign Affairs ministry secretary, Joey Bimha on Monday, when he appeared before the Kindness Paradza-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs to speak on his ministry’s budget allocation for 2017, a paltry $32,8 million.
“Zimbabwe’s diplomatic missions (45 missions) require $24 716 672, and annual rentals, which are a major contractual obligation for our diplomatic missions abroad, stand at $13 200 000, but only $3 040 000 was allocated, which is just sufficient to cater for rentals for three months only,” he said.
“The ministry is in a quandary because all missions, without exception, have received eviction notices because we have an outstanding rental arrears bill of $7 million from 2016, which effectively wipes out the allocated 2017 rental budget of $3 040 000.”
Bimha said the ministry was also finding it difficult to maintain its buildings, vehicles, office equipment and furniture at foreign missions.
“The 2017 allocation of $570 000 is 39% less than the previous year’s allocation of $930 000, for instance, the global 2017 average maintenance provision per mission is $12 667 and $570 000 for the 45 missions. The allocation can hardly pay annual maintenance bills for a mission. The allocation is way below the ministry’s requirements of $3 437 500,” he said, adding they were also struggling to maintain their foreign vehicle fleet.
“The mission’s vehicle fleet is old and most vehicles were purchased in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The representational and utility vehicles have exceeded their life-span, hence, are now expensive to maintain.
Ambassadors continue to face embarrassing situations due to the deplorable conditions of the vehicles they use.”
Last year, Paradza played a video in the National Assembly showing the crumbling Zimbabwean Embassy building in Ethiopia.
Bimha said the ministry had expected an allocation of $13 million for projects, but only $2,4 million was made available.
Zimbabwe has for almost two decades been dogged by a political, social and economic crisis that has been exacerbated by President Robert Mugabe’s controversial stay in power.