ZIMBABWEAN ambassadors and other diplomats serving in foreign countries have not been paid their salaries for some time and risk being evicted from their residences due to non-payment of rentals, the Foreign Affairs ministry has said.
Foreign Affairs ministry permanent secretary Joey Bimha told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday that the ministry this year incurred a domestic debt of $1 780 000 while between 2012 and 2014, diplomatic missions incurred debts of $32 644 000.
“Our diplomats are without salaries, landlords are threatening eviction, programmes have been curtailed, the list goes on,” he said.
“Treasury failed to provide operations budget support for diplomatic missions for the past 20 months, since May 2013 and these arrears representing monthly operations budget support stood at $32 644 000 as at December 31 2014.”
Bimha decried the allocation of $48 126 000 in the 2015 National Budget and warned that the country risked embarrassment at its embassies most of which were in a state of dilapidation.
The ministry said due to limited Budget support they had failed to pay for the 2014 African Union subscriptions of $455 293, 42 as well as 2014/15 Sadc mandatory country pledges of $620 944.
“Failure to pay our dues would be extremely embarrassing given that we sit at the helm of both organisations,” said Bimha.
The ministry said chanceries and residences abroad were in a state of disrepair and needed urgent and extensive renovations. “We had hoped Treasury was going to allocate $10 million towards repairs of government-owned properties abroad, but we were given $1 250 000 representing 12,5% of our global needs,” Bimha said. He said the ministry’s vehicle fleet was now old as most of the vehicles were purchased in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Only $600 000 was allocated to repair the fleet when the ministry needed $8 million.
“It is critical that funding of diplomatic missions should be adequate otherwise we risk being embarrassed as a nation when we fail to honour our contractual obligations,” Bimha said.