- Embassies are “like Mbare Matapi flats”
Members of parliament have demanded the immediate resignation of foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who is blamed for the collapse of services at the country’s embassies abroad.
The MPs were debating the deteriorating conditions at the country’s foreign embassies, many of which now resembled Mbare’s eyesore, dilapidated Matapi flats, according to one lawmaker.
“Minister Mumbegegwi must go yesterday,” said Mabvuku MP James Maridadi. “The President must ask the Minister to give him the opportunity to appoint someone else who will do a better job. Failure of which, I think this House, through the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, must then ask the Minister kindly, to come and give evidence, after which they must give a recommendation that the Minister must just resign on his own and avoid the embarrassment of being fired. Because the way I see it, everyone who is in this House, including the Vice President, has realised that the Minister is not capable and as such he must step aside and then give us an opportunity to have someone else who is capable.”
Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa blasted Mumbengegwi for avoiding parliament, claiming he was busy.
“Of all the Ministers, we have a Minister who has become truant. He hardly comes to Parliament and he tells us he will be busy. Minister Mumbegegwi you are busy, but you are busy doing what when all the embassies are like what they are?” Chamisa said. “He has been a Minister since 2005. He has been one of the permanent features of our Government, but if you look at the output, this is the sort of Minister who is supposed to be fired immediately. If Minister Mumbegegwi cannot be fired by President Mugabe, we need, as Members of Parliament, to collectively come together and fire him. We need to deal with truant Ministers. Minister Mumbegegwi has just been truant for too long, yet he has nothing to account for his absence in Parliament. He has nothing to account for his absence from duty. These are serious issues. I have seen the grass in Ethiopia at our Embassy, perhaps, they are taking after the style of our Minister when he keeps his beard.”
Chamisa said the whole government must resign for failing to run the country.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the first thing that we need to do is to expunge and extinguish the kwashiorkor of leadership within Government. We need to deal with the kwashiorkor of direction and vision within Government. How do we do that? We must remove embarrassment within Government. Ministers who are not performing must go, but if the Government fails to perform in total, it must also go. That has to be the direction that we take as a people and as a Parliament,” Chamisa said.
Foreign affairs portfolio committee member Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she was shocked about the dilapidated state of the country’s embassy in Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union.
“The ceiling is falling apart. I kept looking at it and kept saying, how much would it take to, perhaps just patch that ceiling. I am not talking about removing the corrugated iron that covers it because there is no proper ceiling or tiling, it is corrugated iron. What will it take to just cover that place and make it liveable? It probably will take $10 000. Let us look at the gentlemen that come and sit at this front seat (referring to Ministers). Let us look at what they have. I understand they have a SUV which is at a cost of about $345 000, a second car in the form of a Mercedes Benz S350 at a cost of about $145 000, each director has a Range Rover and a secretary,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said. “We have become such a greedy nation, it is about me, me, and me. Am I driving a new car, new off-roader, travelling business and first class, do I have my own computer and that has killed us. It is not an issue of us not having resources. I refuse to acknowledge the fact that we have no money. We are not buying that argument. We have money but just have our priorities in a wrong place. What we think is important is not what is important, and we prioritise things that do not matter.”
Wives of diplomats in Ethiopia were found to have set up markets for goats, while those in Zambia were buying and selling cattle meat to make ends meet after government failed to pay salaries for months.
Chairperson of the foreign affairs committee Kindness Paradza said Zimbabwean diplomats were working under “very difficult conditions”.
“In short, it is no longer attractive to serve in the Foreign Service,” Paradza said. “Save for the human capital therein, our embassies in these two capitals are at an advanced state of disintegration. We have been in touch with most of our Ambassadors around the globe, and the story is the same, with our two emissaries in Maputo and Dar-e-Salaam having abandoned their official residences due to structural dilapidation and other ancillary defects.”
Sources however said most Zimbabwean embassies were overstaffed with relatives and friends of ministers and top regime figures, making their salary demands unsustainable. The sources said the foreign service had become a dumping ground for under-performing but well-connected civil servants and Zanu PF members.
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