By Anna Chibamu
ZIMBABWE’S broke government has failed to pay for air tickets to ferry citizens holed up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The stranded Zimbabweans have been directed to meet their own airfares back home.
This comes after the Ethiopian Airline offered to transport them back home provided they each paid US$1367, 51 in fares.
In a letter, the Zimbabwean Embassy in UAE reported it was working in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to repatriate stranded nationals back home at their own cost.
The letter addressed to Clemence Mangwana, who is spearheading the repatriation process from the UAE, highlighted the nationals were supposed to pay the amount before 13 June 2020 for them to be accommodated on a Saturday flight.
“Please be advised that the Ethiopian Airlines has agreed to repatriate stranded Zimbabwean nationals to Harare on Saturday, the 13th of June, 2020,” reads the letter.
“The airline has indicated that the stranded Zimbabweans can begin paying the airfares (AED5000) with effect from Sunday (yesterday) at its offices in Dubai.
“Further details about the repatriation processes are being worked between the Airline and the Embassy.”
There was no mention of the number of locals reportedly stranded in the Asian country.
The embassy asked those seeking repatriation to indicate they could afford the fares back home.
“In the meantime, Ethiopian Airlines is requesting names and passport details of the people who want to be repatriated,” said the embassy.
“The details must be submitted to the Embassy.
“In this regard, those who have not yet registered their details for repatriation process should urgently submit their first, names, surnames, national identity numbers and passport numbers at the Embassy.
“Those who registered but did not indicate that they were going to pay for their air tickets should inform the Embassy that they can now afford to pay.”
Foreign Affairs ministry permanent secretary James Manzou last week told a Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs that it was seeking US$300 000 for air tickets to repatriate stranded Zimbabweans in many countries abroad.
“We have requested for US$300 000 for tickets from Treasury but nothing has come from Finance ministry leading for reliance on well-wishers,” said Manzou.
The situation is dire for Zimbabweans both in and outside the country as government struggles to feed millions of locals rendered desperate by both hunger and the effects of the current Covid-19 menace.
The government is also struggling to provide food and basics for hundreds of locals quarantined for Covid-19 at its expense in various centres throughout the country.