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Unpaid Zim envoy struggles to bury wife




ZIMBABWE’S ambassador to Kuwait, Grey Marongwe, is a bitter man – with reason.Cde-Mumbengegwi

Unpaid for several months, he struggled for money to bring his wife home for burial when she died last year – and his bosses in Harare would not help.

While President Robert Mugabe is never refused money to travel wherever he pleases across the world, the country’s ambassadors have gone for months without pay while rentals at the missions remain unpaid.

The cash-strapped government is struggling to finance its 40-plus foreign missions and Parliament heard Tuesday of the woe the country’s ambassadors are enduring due to the financial crisis.

A team of legislators recently visited Kuwait to secure the return of Zimbabwean women duped into slavery on the promise of jobs in Persian Gulf nation.

Team leader, Zanu PF’s Kindness Paradza, said they were stunned as Harare’s man in Kuwait City – the capital – narrated his ordeal.

Ambassador Marongwe is not getting paid, with his salary arrears now standing at $127,000.

In June last year, he lost his wife and struggled to repatriate her remains for burial back in Zimbabwe, with Harare offering no assistance.

“Ambassador Marongwe was bitter that when his wife died in Kuwait in June 2015, the Government failed to assist him financially in repatriating the body home,” said Paradza.

“He (Marongwe) had to borrow from the Bank of Kuwait to pay for airfares, embalming and other expenses.

“This is despite the fact that Treasury owes Ambassador Marongwe US$127,000 in salary arrears.”

Government, the MPs heard, has failed to pay salaries and rentals at the embassy for months.

Kuwaiti officials recently summoned Ambassador Marongwe over rental arrears of $130,000.

“Our Ambassador in Kuwait, Cde Marongwe painted a gloomy picture on the situation at the embassy, which is similar or worse than what is prevailing in other embassies dotted around the globe,” Paradza added.

“He told the delegation he was humiliated when he was summoned, on February 22, 2016, to the Kuwait Foreign Affairs Ministry over outstanding rentals after owners of properties occupied by embassy staff had approached their government for redress.

“The rentals are seven months in arrears and landlords were demanding immediate evictions.”

Paradza challenged the government to eat humble pie and close some of Zimbabwe’s foreign missions.

“The executive should consider making a bold decision and close down some embassies,” he said.

Malawi media recently reported that local staff at Zimbabwe’s embassy in Lilongwe had gone without pay since December last year.

The workers wrote an anonymous letter to the Malawian government asking for interventions.

They alleged that they were not allowed to complain, because senior officials at the embassy threatened them with dismissals when they spoke up about the issue.

However, the Malawian foreign affairs spokesperson, Rejoice Shumba said it would be difficult for the Malawian government to intervene because embassies had their own standing labour laws.

Last year, the government admitted it was struggling to finance the country’s foreign missions.

At the time, Finance and Economic Development secretary Willard Manungo appeared to blame the foreign ministry head office in Harare, suggesting money released for salaries was not remitted to the foreign missions.

“The problem is we disburse salaries for foreign embassies directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their diplomatic missions, but we are now considering having everyone under the Salary Services Bureau so that we have a situation whereby all employment costs for domestic and foreign missions are processed from one point,” Manungo was quoted saying.

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