Zimbabwean govt in $7m embassy rental arrears

By Staff Reporter

The Zimbabwean government has received numerous eviction notices while some diplomats have been sued for their failure to pay rentals. The current rental bill has ballooned in excess of US$7million at some of its rented embassies globally, a report by the committee on Foreign Affairs tabled before parliament in February revealed.

President Robert Mugabe, in the same month, went on to squander hundreds of thousand dollars on his birthday ceremony in the floods induced province of Matebeleland when he turned 93. The event was followed by Mugabe splashing US$1m on a hired flight to Singapore.

The report also noted situations where the ambassador who is currently the dean of the diplomatic corps in West Africa had to leave an event last because of a battered car, Peugeot 504, which has seen better days, as a way of avoiding embarrassment.

Traditionally in the field of diplomacy, courtesy requires the dean to leave an event first when diplomats have official meetings and gatherings.

Responding to the report on Tuesday, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgar Mbwembwe thanked the committee for undertaking the visits to Addis Ababa and Gaborone. Mbwembwe said the findings were pertinent though disturbing and synonymous to other embassies globally.

“Mr. Speaker Sir, the main reason why Government has not been able to adequately maintain these properties are the economic challenges that the country has been experiencing over successive years”, Deputy Minister Mbwembwe said.

Mbwembwe told the house that some of the properties had leaking roofs while 12 of the embassies in Africa were in need of face-lift.

Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs committee Kindness Paradza said since their return from Addis Ababa and the availing of the US$20 000 nothing had been done commence renovations of the leaking roofs.

“It is not only the buildings Mr. Speaker. Also the vehicles there are all very old and no longer fit to be diplomatic vehicles and it is no longer exciting talking to our Ambassadors” Paradza revealed.

Paradza pleaded with treasury to allocate US$1m-$2m a year to build at least one embassy a year. He praised Gambia, describing it as a small country which had managed to erect a US$600 000 building.

Foreign Affairs committee chairperson lambasted Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi for taking President Mugabe to go and officially open the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea.

“It is a marvelous piece of architecture, but he did not take the President to go and view our Embassy which is so dilapidated that you cannot believe it is an Embassy”.





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