By ZBC Reporter
THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade says it is on course to address a wide range of challenges facing foreign missions, including through engaging the private sector.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Retired Lieutenant General Dr. Sibusiso Moyo revealed that his ministry is sitting on a US$30 million debt for services rendered and salaries, with accommodation for diplomats still remaining a major challenge as most facilities are yet to be renovated.
He added that the ministry is already pursuing public-private partnerships to work on modalities in addressing the challenges.
“We are owed 30 million by the government however as a ministry we have decided not to sit back and relax as we have already started to initiate some private partnerships especially with regards to accommodation challenges that have dogged our foreign diplomats. Already we have acquired vehicles for all the diplomats around the world as we struggle to maintain the standards,” said the minister.
Dr. Moyo also revealed that repatriation arrangements for students on scholarships abroad who were affected by COVID-19 have been put in place.
“As for the students, modalities have been put in place with most of them being returned home safely, however, the issue of returnees remains a challenge as we have to ensure that we collaborate with our neighbours,” he noted.
Quizzed by the Committee Chairperson Honourable Kindness Paradza on what the Ministry is doing to address foreign mission challenges, Principal Director — Fiscal Policy in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Pfungwa Kunaka, pledged the government’s support towards addressing the challenges.
“We are aware of the challenges being faced by our foreign diplomats but financial challenges especially in the COVID-19 pandemic have not spared us and these are hampering our efforts in addressing the situation. However we have set aside a fund to cushion our diplomats,” said Kunaka.
It was also revealed that the government might consider reducing the number of foreign missions as part of cost-cutting measures.