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Zimbabwean diplomats around world given eviction notices over rent arrears

Thursday January 19 2017

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (right) in Harare on October 6, 2016. PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | AFP

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (right) in Harare on October 6, 2016. PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | AFP 

KITSEPILE NYATHI
By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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HARARE, Thursday

Zimbabwean diplomats around the world have been given eviction notices after the government accumulated rent arrears amounting to $7 million for the 45 foreign missions, it has been revealed.

According to Joey Bimha, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country’s foreign missions were only allocated $3 million for rent in this year’s budget despite the huge arrears.

“The ministry is in a quandary because all missions, without exception, have received eviction notices because we have an outstanding rental arrears bill of $7 million from 2016, which effectively wipes out the allocated 2017 rental budget of $1 040 00,” Mr Bimha told a parliamentary committee.

“Zimbabwe’s diplomatic missions require $24,716,672 and annual rentals, which are a major contractual obligation for our diplomatic missions abroad stand at $13,200,000, but only $3,040,000 was allocated, which is just sufficient to cater for rentals for three months only,” he added. Mr Bimha said the ministry also had no money to maintain buildings, vehicles and to replace office furniture at the embassies because of poor funding. “The budget allocation can hardly pay the annual maintenance bill for a mission,” he said. “The allocation is way below the ministry’s requirements.

“The missions’ vehicle fleet is old and most vehicles were bought in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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“The representational and utility vehicles have exceeded their lifespan, hence are now expensive to maintain. “Ambassadors continue to face embarrassing situations due to the deplorable conditions of the vehicles they use.”

Last year, parliamentarians toured several Zimbabwean embassies abroad and were shocked by the state of a building housing the country’s mission in Ethiopia.

The building was crumbling due to lack of maintenance.

Zimbabwe has been going through an economic crisis for the last two decades, a situation that has been blamed on President Robert Mugabe’s controversial policies.