Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Foreign embassies, which have gone for long periods in a state of dilapidation, will soon get a facelift after Government resolved to commit resources to their refurbishment, Parliament heard yesterday.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told the National Assembly that Cabinet resolved yesterday to refurbish embassies starting with that in Ethiopia. He was responding to a report by the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Makonde MP Cde Kindness Paradza (Zanu-PF) that bemoaned the state of embassies, which he said was an embarrassment.
Legislators had also called for the dismissal of Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi for not only failing to address the challenge but failing to attend Parliament sittings.
VP Mnangagwa said Minister Mumbengegwi was in Botswana attending a sadc Council of Ministers.
“There are indeed problems of administration and maintenance of embassies. However, and fortunately this afternoon we were seized with the state of the affairs of our embassies in Cabinet. We resolved to start with Ethiopia so that we change the face of it. The concern expressed by members is quite legitimate. As an Executive we have resolved to attend to that issue,” said VP Mnangagwa.
In his report, Cde Paradza said they visited Ethiopia and Botswana and the embassies were in bad shape.
“The embassy buildings in the two countries are in such a deplorable state of dilapidation to the extent that they are actually unsuitable for human habitation and occupancy. Visitors are greeted by cracked and crumbling walls which at best resemble an abandoned building,” said Cde Paradza while showing graphic details of the buildings.
“The roof at the Ethiopian embassy is leaking and monumental damage is being inflicted to the electrical cables. The carpets have been severely damaged by water which leaks from the roof during rainy seasons. What your committee saw can best be described as reckless abandon and gross neglect of the chancery by responsible authorities here in Harare.”
The committee noted that Zimbabwean ambassadors accredited to African countries would often chair meetings by virtue of the President being the chair of sadc and African Union, thereby exposing the image of the country.
He said several African countries whose Gross Domestic Product was lesser than that of Harare had good infrastructure at their embassies.
Several legislators who subsequently rose to make contributions rapped Minister Mumbengegwi and recommended there be a reduction of embassies to manageable sizes.
Chegutu West MP Cde Dexter Nduna (Zanu-PF) called for optimal mobilisation of resources saying the money could be used to address such challenges.
Shamva South MP Cde Joseph Mapiki (Zanu-PF) said Minister Mumbengegwi should be called to Parliament to explain why the situation was allowed to deteriorate to that extent.
Tafara-Mabvuku MP Mr James Maridadi (MDC-T) rapped Government saying it was intriguing that the whole Cabinet would discuss operational issues like refurbishment of embassies something that should be mundane instead of discussing policy issues.
Kuwadzana East MP Mr Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) said it was critical that the country strove to improve its image.