Zimbabwean diplomats are going for months without being paid and now live in dilapidated houses as the cash-strapped government is failing to adequately fund the country’s 46 consulates and embassies, Parliament has heard.
A report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was presented in the National Assembly on Tuesday, said Zimbabwe was now a laughing stock due to the despicable condition of the country’s embassies, including the poverty that now submerges the country’s diplomats.
“Zimbabwe’s embassies do not own properties at diplomatic missions and the Foreign Affairs ministry depends on renting properties for ambassadors,” the report, which was presented by Mberengwa South MP Alum Mpofu (Zanu PF), read.
“The committee has heard of the despicable state of disrepair at the country’s chancelleries and embassies, and diplomats have had to leave their houses because of the state of disrepair and dilapidation.”
The Foreign Affairs ministry bid for $21,432 million in next year’s budget to go towards repairs of government properties abroad, but was allocated $12 million.
Mpofu said the parliamentary committee recommended that the country’s embassies be reduced from 46 to 28.
“This must be done after an analysis is made to identify those embassies that should be closed,” the committee said.
“To solve the continued accumulation of debt by embassies, Treasury should allocate money for the purchase and construction of properties for embassies, and priority should be given to those countries where rental costs are very high.”
The committee also recommended that Treasury ensures that the Foreign Affairs ministry’s nostro account is always adequately funded.
“The ministry should vigorously pursue re-engagement and put special focus on that Zimbabwe should re-join the Commonwealth and ensure the country’s readmission by 2019,” the committee recommended.
“Embassies and staff should get salaries on time in foreign currency, and the Industry ministry should finalise the diaspora policy. Embassies should be equipped to be able to process identity documents and other documents to our nationals.”
It also recommended that efforts be made to clear all outstanding debts at diplomatic missions to avoid tarnishing the image of the country and to reduce the stress levels of diplomats.