Diplomats go for two months without pay

HARARE - Zimbabwe's diplomats are living rough as the cash-strapped Harare government struggles to pay salaries and other operational costs, a top government official has said.

This was revealed yesterday by Joey Bimha, the Foreign Affairs ministry permanent secretary.

He was presenting oral evidence to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs on the state of affairs at the country’s diplomatic missions.

The country has over 40 embassies and five consulates around the globe.

Bimha informed the Amos Midzi-chaired committee that his ministry was facing a myriad of financially-related challenges which he blamed on lack of adequate budgetary support from Treasury.

This was affecting consular services and the government’s work in promoting the country.

The former ambassador to France said other major cost drivers for diplomatic missions besides salaries were contractual obligations, rentals, utilities, vehicles, equipment and buildings maintenance.

He said the buildings needed rehabilitation.

“In some cases, officers had to move to rented accommodation due to the derelict state of disrepair and inhabitable condition of the buildings,” Bimha told the committee.

He said Treasury had not provided funds to cater for these critical expenditure items for the past 20 months from May 2013, to December 2014 — a situation he said did not reflect well on the country at a time Zimbabwe is chairing both the African Union and Sadc.

He expressed fear that operations at the country’s 46 missions around the globe would grind to a halt due to non-provision of a monthly budgetary support of about $4,1 million.

“Due to lack of adequate budget support provision, the ministry now owes diplomatic staff $6 669 900 in salary arrears as at 31st December 2014,” Bimha said.

The committee was also informed that the ministry was in school fees arrears for diplomats’ children amounting to $376 900.

Foreign Service conditions of service require that government pays for tuition and boarding fees, in full, for diplomats’ children attending school in Zimbabwe.

Bimha said due to lack of operations budgetary support, diplomats are forced to first meet their children’s fees, with the ministry refunding them where it can.

“Unfortunately, these officers face double tragedy in that they are owed both salary arrears and school fees refunds,” Bimha said.

“This amount will increase on a termly basis in 2015.”

The committee also heard that as at March 6, 2015, Treasury had provided the January 2015 monthly salary allocation of $2,7 million without factoring in the operations budget of $543 750 which had been requested.

“Thus, in addition to salary arrears mentioned earlier, Treasury is two months behind in providing liquidity for running diplomatic missions and our officers have not received January and February salaries as we speak,” he said.

Rueben Marumahoko, Zanu PF MP for Hurungwe, queried how government fails to pay diplomats when other civil servants were being paid.

Bimha referred the lawmaker to Treasury saying his ministry was not responsible for civil servants’ salaries.

Kindness Paradza, MP for Makonde, also wanted to know if the ministry of Foreign Affairs had tried to be resourceful and source funds outside Treasury.

“I appreciate the importance of thinking outside the box but there are times when the box does not even exist. In our case, I think it is Treasury that must think outside the box,” Bimha said. 

The situation at Zimbabwe’s embassies has been dire for years and the government has failed to reverse the downward spiral because of a lack of funds.

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Comments (14)

Should our suitability to chair the African Union and SADC be judged by what Malawians think of the state of our embassy in Lilongwe, or the hundreds of thousands of our women who will die prematurely over the next 10 years because they did not have access to simple cancer screening that is taken for granted in many societies?

John Banda - 11 March 2015

This is a true reflection of the state of things at home ( in Zimbabwe). What else has this government not destroyed. All the efforts of the Mugabe government is channeled towards retaining power and looting. The day the old man goes there will be wild celebrations and parties. Why did the gods curse us by giving us such a man who dreams of nothing else except power, power and more power.

Morrison Makuvatsine - 11 March 2015

This is a true reflection of the state of things at home ( in Zimbabwe). What else has this government not destroyed. All the efforts of the Mugabe government is channeled towards retaining power and looting. The day the old man goes there will be wild celebrations and parties. Why did the gods curse us by giving us such a man who dreams of nothing else except power, power and more power.

Morrison Makuvatsine - 11 March 2015

It is shame for this ZANU PF led government to fail to pay their employees who are overseas. Soon they will engage in other survival tactics like everyone else at home...selling tomatoes on pavements and a bit of prostitution. Shut down most of the embassies, temporarily until the financial challenges ease or this RGM thing must stop globe trotting every second week and pay these poor civil servants.

Garikayi - 11 March 2015

Most of these guys don't serve national interests but partisan Zanu interests. Even if they are not paid its fine they have milked the country dry already!

Phaphamani - 11 March 2015

Let's quit pretending the country has money. The answer is quite simple. Close all but the essential embassies and lay the diplomats off.

david taylor - 11 March 2015

It never runs but pours in Zimbabwe. What is clear is the situation is going to get worse and not bet-ter as long as Zanu PF remains in power. What is also clear is the situation cannot continue for much longer because it is morally, economically, socially and politically unsustainable. What is not so clear is whether Mugabe and Zanu PF will peacefully accept they have failed and step down or they will hang on and finally be force out of office the Muammar Gaddafi style!

Wilbert Mukori - 11 March 2015

close all embassies and foeign offices vanhu vacho havana kana tsitsi nemunhu wekumusha. had a passport stolen vaiva nehasha ne rafu only to be given help by mozambican police for me to come home and get new passport chinhu chavaigona kuita in seconds ngavadzoke vaone kuoma kwezim

ngano - 12 March 2015

We will pay them as soon as we receive payment for our elephants.

Godfrey - 12 March 2015

I agree with David Taylor that we close these embassies that are doing nothing for the country. They are have been on a long term holiday at our expense! Bring them home

saundy - 12 March 2015

my best friend's ex-wife makes $63 /hr on the laptop . She has been unemployed for ten months but last month her check was $19437 just working on the laptop for a few hours. go to the website .for work detail go to tech tab..... ====> www.goo.gl/4bDbql

morkal - 12 March 2015

45 embassies for a financially bankrupt nation is simply unsustainable. Of course the solution is to close down half the embassies and consulates and remain with a sustainable number that our coffers can sustain and have the remaining ambassadors share out the coverage of ambassadorial duties previously handled by the closed embassies. The recalled staff can then be allocated other duties in the Public Service back home. Of course such advice will not be heeded by this obdurate regime because it is impervious to sound financial advice as can be demonstrated by its reluctance to rid the overflowing Public Service of ghost workers and unsuitable personnel unprocedurally recruited. The profligacy of the Mugabe regime is also manifest in its paying of allowances to chiefs, headmen and war veterans ; a luxury that only oil resourced nations like Kuwait, Angola and Saudi Arabia can be trusted to afford.

tafa mutekwe - 12 March 2015

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