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Zimbabwe Deputy Minister Says Debt-Ridden Foreign Service Needs Downsizing

  • Gibbs Dube

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha told Parliament recently that Zimbabwe has run up total debt of some US$30 million in back rent, unpaid salaries and other expenses related to foreign representations

Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Moses Mzila said Thursday that the government should consider closing down many of its embassies due to the country's very limited financial resources.

Mzila said the US$4 million budget of the Foreign Affairs Ministry is insufficient to maintain existing operations in 40 countries with more than 200 staff, and that the unity government principals should consider cutbacks.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha told Parliament recently that Zimbabwe has run up total debt of some US$30 million in back rent, unpaid salaries and other expenses related to overseas representations.

Bimha said some ambassadors have no vehicles and that consequently some of them must walk to work.

Mzila told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that all non-essential diplomatic missions should be closed down to stretch state resources. “This is the only logical way of addressing this issue in order to avoid accumulating more debts at these diplomatic offices,” Mzila said.

The ministry recently ordered all envoys to vacate expensive offices - but some are unable to move due to contractual obligations and rent arrears, or both. Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi opposes cutbacks.

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