Zimbabwe’s re-engagement agenda is being hampered by lack of funding to support foreign missions, according to a Quarterly Budget Performance Report on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for 2021 released recently.
On November 3, Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Shava presented the report to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which states the major challenge to the achievement of the ministry’s objectives in 2021 had been Treasury’s late disbursements coupled with the failure to release actual budgeted funds.
The ministry had planned to rehabilitate four of Zimbabwe’s foreign missions namely, Windhoek (Namibia), Geneva (Switzerland), Paris (France) and Gaborone (Botswana), and to buy three new chanceries and three residences in Ankara, Kigali and Abu Dhabi.
It also wanted to buy furniture and equipment in Pretoria, Maputo, Windhoek and Washington.
“However, due to delays in the release of funds as well as non-disbursement of the huge chunk of the ministry’s total budget allocation, this was not fully achieved in 2021,” reads the Report.
In its fourth quarter submissions, the ministry however reported that renovations were underway at embassies in Nairobi (Kenya), Maputo (Mozambique) and Windhoek (Botswana).
“Bearing in mind that, our embassies are at the epicentre of the engagement and re-engagement exercise, a bedrock for attracting both foreign direct investments and diaspora investments.
“The Committee observed that there was need for Treasury to fully release the budget allocation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International so that the Ministry expedites the refurbishment and construction of chanceries that befits the office of our Ambassadors,” reads the report.
According to the ministry’s 2021 Strategic Plan, it had planned to purchase 39 vehicles, nine for the Head Office and 30 for foreign missions. By year-end, the ministry had purchased only eight, leaving a shortfall of 32.
The committee, accordingly recommended that in future Treasury should release the full amount of budgeted funds in a more predictable manner, and should frame the 2023 budget for foreign missions in US dollars.