Government has started mobilising resources to clear arrears in respect of salaries, rentals and other running costs for its various embassies around the globe as part of efforts to rebuild the country’s image, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo has said. Tied to the ongoing efforts, Minister Moyo said, was a need for the country’s 46 diplomatic missions to perform and meet key result areas to justify their continued existence. This comes a month after Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa said President Mnangagwa had approved a plan to downsize the country’s diplomatic missions, taking into account Zimbabwe’s current economic environment and affordability.
The rationalisation of diplomatic missions, which also puts a ceiling on rental payments for diplomats, aims to balance the cost of maintaining missions and the business value they generate.
“We are reviewing the position of all embassies and it’s high time they must perform in a measurable manner. Government incurs a lot of costs in running embassies so they must justify their existence,” Minister Moyo told the Herald in an interview on Monday.
“Because of financial constraints, they can be served from elsewhere, we will also look into that, but the corporate and private sector should also help as they benefit from work derived from embassies. Embassy roles are underpinned by three functions: representing their country, negotiating bilateral deals or positions as well as handling disputes and exchanging relevant information between states.
“We have already started the rationalisation process and will advise in due course. We are rebuilding our image and rebranding the country,” he said, adding this would bring effectiveness as the country would be able to provide a fit-for-purpose service.
Minister Moyo said the country’s foreign policy derived from President Mnangagwa’s inaugural speech in which he emphasized the need to reengage and mend relations with the international community while creating jobs for the masses.
“Our foreign policy thrust is derived from His Excellency’s inaugural speech which talks about the need for Zimbabwe to rejoin the global community. As such, our responsibility is to manage external publics in the interest of Zimbabwe and to promote and protect the national interest of the country. Underlying this is the desire to ensure we bring technology and develop the political, economic, technological, legal and tourism environment,” said Minister Moyo.
He said the country’s foreign policy had a heavy bias towards the nation’s economic goals. He said Government had taken economic statecraft as one of the chief instruments to realize the country’s foreign policy objectives.