Zim generals' new mission on hold due to debts to other countries
Five former military top brass are among a group of diplomats-in-waiting who are stuck in Harare because their host countries have yet to approve their credentials.
The host countries, including China and members of the Southern African Development Community, are apparently unhappy about unpaid debts owed by the Zimbabwean missions in their territories.
Zimbabwe's diplomatic missions around the world are in debt to the tune of more than $15.7m.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa assigned the officers - four generals and an air marshal - to ambassadorial posts three months ago.
The officers have voiced concern over their welfare once they take up their new posts. In the past embassy officials have had to find their own funding because the government has failed to meet its financial commitments to them.
The five former military bosses up for ambassadorial posts are Lt Gen Anselem Sanyatwe, Lt Gen Martin Chedondo, Lt Gen Douglas Nyikayaramba, Maj Gen Thando Madzvamuse and Air Marshal Shebba Shumbayawonda.
The officers are among 15 ambassadors-designate waiting to move to their posts.
Zanu-PF MP Kindness Paradza, who chairs the parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs, briefed the would-be diplomats about the state of affairs at foreign missions during their diplomatic training on April 16 in Harare.
Paradza declined to discuss the briefing with reporters, saying it was confidential. But a copy of the remarks he made to the new diplomats, seen by the Sunday Times, shows that he described the situation in foreign missions and cited the concerns raised in a recent auditor-general's (AG's) report regarding revenue collection and other financial irregularities.
According to the AG's report, this year the ministry of foreign affairs & international trade has been allocated $56m, with the bulk of it going to diplomatic missions.About $6m will go towards the refurbishment of the New York embassy and the ambassador's residence in London will gobble up $2m. Construction of a new embassy in Dodoma, Tanzania, will cost $1.5m.The AG noted that anomalies were identified at 13 foreign missions visited in 2017 - in Germany, Belgium, Mozambique (two), Australia, Botswana, Cuba, Angola, Italy, Singapore, Japan, Namibia and Nigeria."As you arrive at your different stations, you will hear reports that in the past or even now, our diplomats ended up using personal funds to pay their own rentals," Paradza told the diplomats-in-waiting."This was all meant to prevent embarrassment from threats of litigation for nonpayment of rentals and also to preserve our reputation as a country."Announcing the decision to re-assign the military officers on February 18, Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the presidency and cabinet, said the move was in line with the government's "critical global engagement and re-engagement strategy".Sibusiso Moyo, the minister of foreign affairs & international trade, could not immediately comment, but sources said he was present at the diplomatic training session.