SW Radio Africa (London)

24 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Zim Embassies in $13 Million Debt

Zimbabwe's embassies across the globe are poorly financed and are struggling with a debt of $13 million, a leading South African newspaper has said.

The Mail & Guardian reported Friday that this was revealed in a report by a parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs, headed by former envoy and ZANU PF MP for Epworth, Amos Midzi.

So desperate is the situation that a part of diplomats' salaries is 'generally diverted to operational costs to avoid evictions and other associated consequences', the paper said.

According to the M&G the situation is made worse by the fact that the embassies did not receive all the money allocated to them in the 2013 budget. Out of an allocated $63.2 million for the foreign missions, as of November 2013 only $35.2 million had been disbursed, the report said.

The report also says that the foreign affairs department is saddled with 'excess personnel' after staff from the ministry of regional integration and international co-operation were transferred to the ministry of foreign affairs. That ministry was created in 2009 following the formation of the erstwhile unity government.

As a result the ministry is struggling to cope. School fees for staff children, utilities and rentals are going unpaid and some embassis are relying on 'high-maintenance' vehicles, with the embassy in France said to be using a vehicle purchased in 1996.

Zimbabwe's foreign missions have always been dogged by financial problems. Last month foreign affairs secretary Joey Bimha told Parliament that the country's envoys have gone for 10 years without a salary increment.

In 2009 another parliamentary report revealed that Zimbabwe's envoy to Mozambique was walking to work because the government could not afford a car for him.

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