By Blessings Mashaya
Zimbabwe diplomats in various countries are living in dilapidated houses, Parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has revealed.
In a report presented in the National assembly last week, the committee said some of the houses are becoming a health hazard.
“The committee has heard of the despicable and unacceptable state of disrepair that some of the country’s chanceries and residences abroad are in.
‘Indeed, in some cases, it has been said, diplomats have had to abandon some of the houses because they had become a health hazard,” the report reads.
“In this regard, the ministry had hoped that treasury was going to allocate $21,432 million towards repair of government-owned properties abroad but only a paltry $12 million was given. This is of great concern to the committee.”
The committee said diplomats continue to face arrears accumulated over the years.
“The committee observed a perennial challenge that the ministry continues to face — arrears. These have accumulated over the years because of inadequate budget allocation over the years, lack of liquidity provision by treasury and sporadic funding of the ministry’s commercial bank nostro account by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“As a committee, we implore treasury to look into this and have a plan in place to clear these arrears.
“Right now, the ministry has over $5 million that waits for nostro funding and this money is badly needed at our foreign missions.”
The committee recommended that ambassadors and their staff should get their salaries on time and in foreign currency.
“Ambassadors and staff should be given performance linked contracts in order for the ministry to cultivate and buttress the spirit and culture of hard work at our foreign missions.
“The committee welcomes the proposal by Treasury to reduce the number of foreign missions from 46 to 38.
“However, the committee recommends that a comprehensive cost–benefit analysis should be carried out to assist in identifying those missions which can be closed or clustered.
“The committee also calls for speedy conclusion on this to avoid continued accumulation of debts in missions where business opportunities are very low.”
They added that embassies in selected countries should be equipped to enable them to process identity documents to Zimbabwean nationals working or living abroad while also urging the government to clear all outstanding debt “not only to avoid tarnishing the image of the country but also reduce the stress of our diplomats working under such conditions.” Daily News