Unpaid for 14 months, Zim diplomats surviving on chicken feet, gizzards

via Unpaid for 14 months, Zim diplomats surviving on chicken feet, gizzards – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 17, 2015

“WE are surviving on chicken feet and zvikanganwa hama (gizzards), the situation is really bad,” a Zimbabwean diplomat said in an interview at the weekend as he outlined the increasingly dire situation at the country’s foreign missions.

Frustration is said to be high in the service and morale rock bottom.

President Robert Mugabe has spent millions travelling the globe so far this year, even as the government admits it is struggling for money as tax revenues have been hit by the 80%-plus unemployment rate and the closure of hundreds of companies.

But while Mugabe is spared the pain of the cash-squeeze, which critics blame on his inept management of the economy, staff at the country’s foreign missions have been condemned to penury. Many say they are struggling to survive, having gone for 14 months without pay.

“We have had families separated, wives/husbands and children are in Zimbabwe because we cannot afford the fees abroad,” said the diplomat who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

“I personally have been limping along because of the little which is coming from rentals of my small house in Harare.

“But you can imagine the problems as the tenant is also failing to pay on time because of the harsh economic environment back home.”

Worst affected are diplomats posted to missions in the more expensive Western countries.

“My brother, we are sinking in debt; those serving in some European and North American countries are wallowing in debt (credit cards) which are not being serviced, debt collectors are after them,” said our source.

NewZimbabwe.com checked with other embassies where officials were prepared to talk on condition they were not named and the tales of woe appeared to be as global as the country’s diplomatic footprint.

In some cases, heads of missions have been forced to use personal funds to pay their own rentals as well as help struggling members of staff with “parents’ funerals, medical expenses, school fees”.

NewZimbabwe.com was told that, in one case the wife of an ambassador was forced to give cookery classes in order to raise money for their own domestic expenses.

“I hear one mission’s electricity is now cut,” one official said.

“Sadly, we continue to pump out rents for nearly all properties, despite policy to purchase, as there is never enough money for capital expenditure – but after a few years we have paid entire purchase price those properties!”

Efforts to contact foreign affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi were unsuccessful as he is attending the Sadc summit with Mugabe in Botswana. Foreign affairs secretary Joey Bimha was also not available.

However, in March this year, Bimha conceded that the situation was bad.

He told legislators that government owed foreign embassy staff $6,6 million in salary arrears up to December 2014, $32,6 million arrears for operational expenses, and $376 900 in school fees refunds for children of staff at the 46 diplomatic missions and consulates.

But staff at the missions blamed Bimha and top officials at head office in Harare for the crisis.

Said one of the envoys we spoke to: “It is our understanding that Treasury regularly releases money for diplomats’ salaries.

“But because these salaries are remitted through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary for that Ministry Mr Bimha and the Director of Finance Mrs Mudambo take upon themselves to divert that money to cover running expenses at Head Office and at Missions, including the payment of rentals and other utilities.”

He added: “Our appeals for payment seem to have fallen on deaf ears as its quite apparent that no one cares for us anymore.

“The ministry has the audacity to buy new cars for the Secretary and Minister every year while we wallow in poverty in these foreign lands.

“To verify the points I have raised, I would be happy if you got in touch with Mr Bimha and Mrs Mudambo in Foreign Affairs and establish for yourself how these people are totally indifferent to our plight.

“They should not lie to you that Treasury has not been releasing money for our salaries, it has been and the two of them have been deciding how our salaries should be distributed to cover other expenses.”

In June this year, Finance ministry secretary Willard Manungo said government was concerned about the welfare of staff at the country’s embassies adding their salaries who now be processed back home in Harare through the Salary Services Bureau (SSB).

However, it appears this is yet to be done.

“My personal appeal is to Minister Chinamasa to urgently stop remitting our salaries through Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but through SSB like other civil servants,” said our source.

“It is no longer a secret that all diplomats are frustrated and stressed to the core. Many want to go back home as they have served more than the stipulated four years abroad.” — online


  • comment-avatar
    JRR56 7 years ago

    Chicken Gizzards and Chicken feet a delicacy in China.. So life not so bad for these useless overpaid brothers.

  • comment-avatar
    grabmore 7 years ago

    Is that accurate? Ambassador says “The Ministry buys new vehicles for the secretary and the Minister EVERY YEAR.

    Of course it is.

  • comment-avatar

    What exactly are these people doing out there to deserve a salary; and what are their qualifications anyway? Just mere zanu pf zealots who are being overpaid. Ngavadzoke kumusha vanorima mbambaira kuruzevha varege kutinyangadza.

  • comment-avatar
    Gore redzidzo 7 years ago

    Dzokai kumba , very soon you will be fired like your ZBC friends

  • comment-avatar
    Mugarbage sucks 7 years ago

    These ZANU-apologists will get no sympathy from me.
    Maybe they are too far down the list of ZANU bootlickers to profiteer any further.
    Try this on your curriculum vitae if you look for a new job:
    “I served Robert Mugabe loyally for 25 years.”
    “I agreed with the theft of private property in Zimbabwe.”
    “I agreed with indigenisation as long as it filled my own pockets.”
    “I am proud to represent the ruling elite of my country.”
    “I ensnared foreign investors and stood by as they lost their money.”

    • comment-avatar
      Mugarbage sucks 7 years ago

      “Its quite apparent that no one cares for us anymore.”

      I are touched, thick teardrops roll down my cheeks.
      How is that any different from the 3 million zimbo’s and 90% unemployed at home?

  • comment-avatar

    Really,I have never heard chicken feet and gizzards sold in Western Countries

  • comment-avatar
    Tinomunamataishe 7 years ago

    I am surprised that these people even expect to be paid. What job do they really do and what would happen if they stopped doing that job? Nothing.

    They are there to serve Robert Mugabe and Robert Mugabe only and therefore he should pay them from his own money.

    They don’t serve any other purpose for the generality of Zimbabweans who are actually living under worse conditions caused by the very Mugabe they are propping.

    At least they have got some food to eat even though they may not rate it highly.

  • comment-avatar
    I am not the one 7 years ago

    I feel less than nothing for any of these “diplomats”.
    I am sure when they got on the gravy train they were quite happy to pillage and plunder!
    Hope further misfortune, hardship and toil is bestowed upon them all, in buckets!!!

  • comment-avatar
    harper 7 years ago

    A diet of “walkie talkies” – chicken feet and heads – kept me fed for two years in Chikkers, so it must be good enough for diplomats.

  • comment-avatar

    Not ALL of them are Zanoids. The ambassadors to Australia and Senegal were MDC people. I think though that the ambassador in Australia is currently applying for asylum. Not usual that an ambassador does that!

    But, she won her case against Treason Wafawarova, which made me VERY happy indeed. I wonder if Zanooo is going to pay the damages for him?

  • comment-avatar

    Good maybe they will get the Chinese National out of the embassy in Washington. What the hell is a Chinese national doing there on the first place. Also the device sucks so why they should be paid anyway