via Embassies: $40m debt, rent, AU fees unpaid – NewZimbabwe 01/11/2015
PROBLEMS at foreign affairs are far from over as it has emerged that government is still failing to pay rent and other costs with over $40 million needed to settle debts at its embassies.
So bad is the situation that Zimbabwe has yet to pay its 2015 annual subscription to the AU despite President Robert Mugabe being the organisation’s chair.
Newzimbabwe.com reported three months ago how desperate the situation was with some diplomats saying they were so poor that they were surviving on “chicken feet” due to continued non-payment of their salaries.
Last week, the parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs heard that Zimbabwe is still not paying rent at most of its 45 embassies around the globe with more than $40 million needed to settle the debts.
Acting secretary for foreign affairs, David Hamadziripi, reportedly told the committee that “all rented premises are in arrears, with a number of missions in receipt of eviction notices”.
He added: “Our officials are regularly summoned by the ministries of foreign affairs in host countries to explain issues relating to default in payment of rent and other obligations.”
Diplomats said in some situations the Salary Services Bureau had begun to pay salaries directly into their Zimbabwean accounts which they access from their host countries through master cards.
Those without accounts in Zimbabwe have been encouraged to open them soon.
This, they said, was meant to avoid a situation where salaries are diverted to other expenses such as rentals.
However, this has also led to disgruntlement among embassy staff members who are nationals of host countries who feel that their fate is being ignored.
It is compulsory for foreign missions to employ locals in varying positions.
Other diplomats said months ago, when the government was virtually not paying any salaries at all, there was tension and deep divisions among staff members.
They said government was prioritising CIO officers and that had resulted in internal divisions.
The continued non-payment of rentals and diplomatic allowances comes at a time when President Robert Mugabe is spending millions travelling the globe.
Government admits it is struggling for money as tax revenues have been hit by the 80 percent-plus unemployment rate and the closure of hundreds of companies.