By Lawrence Paganga – Deputy Editor
THE cash-strapped Zimbabwe government has splurged millions to purchase top-of-the-range vehicles for nearly 50 ambassadors posted across the globe when the State is failing to pay agitated civil servants a living wage.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo revealed Wednesday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs that all ambassadors had taken delivery of new vehicles.
Additional utility vehicles were also purchased for members of staff at some diplomatic postings.
“All ambassadors in general, the conditions of the vehicles which they had was a bit of a challenge and that is the second strategy that we adopted and we bought cars for each and every ambassador who is deployed,” Moyo told the Kindness Paradza chaired committee.
“As we speak now, each and every ambassador has got a new car. In a number of missions, what we have done is that we have also bought utility vehicles in the process, a minibus or something which will then be responsible for picking up staff. We think in that regard, we have progressed.”
Recent media reports said some ambassadors were forced to walk or hitchhike to work as their missions had no vehicles.
Two months ago, the Zimbabwe government splashed millions in foreign currency on luxury vehicles for all senior military chiefs. The vehicles included the latest models of Toyota Hilux and Land Cruisers.
Recently, all commissioners in various State-funded commissions took delivery of the latest versions of Range Rovers.
However, the lavish procurement of luxury vehicles for senior government officials comes when public health workers have gone on indefinite strike over poor salaries and working conditions.
This week, defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told Parliament there was disquiet among members of the Zimbabwe National Army and morale had hit rock bottom as a result of the economic challenges in the country, and confirmed some soldiers were now engaging in corrupt activities for survival.
“To all intents and purposes, they do not go on strike when others go on strike. They are the ones brought in to bridge that gap. This is always the case especially with the Ministry of Health medical personnel who are almost always on strike,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister Moyo said Zimbabwe’s foreign missions were in a deplorable state after years of neglect with staff at the South African embassy in Pretoria having to cover the building with plastic sheets whenever it rains.
“In terms of accommodation, the challenge has been that most of our embassies have not been maintained for many years and I know in South Africa when it’s raining, they have to cover up because it will be dripping.”