Zimbabwe parliament tells ‘high flying’ government officials to travel economy class

Zimbabwe parliament tells ‘high flying’ government officials to travel economy class

By Kuda Chideme, HARARE, June 23 (The Source) – Government officials travelling on business should fly economy class in order to limit expenses as the country is struggling to pay the salaries of diplomats on foreign missions, Treasury was told on Tuesday.

As of March this year, staff at Zimbabwe’s foreign missions had not been paid for eight months and were owed $40 million in salary arrears. Foreign affairs secretary, Joey Bimha said then they have not received a salary increase in over 10 years as government struggles with budgetary constraints.

Non-constituency Member of Parliament Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who sits on a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs said Treasury should cut travel costs and prioritise the welfare of ambassadors and embassy staff in foreign countries who have gone for months without receiving salaries.

“You cannot have all your 100-plus directors travelling business class, if you look at your air travel expenses given the number of delegations you take to (foreign) summits, it is unsustainable,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a former minister of regional integration and international  co-operation in Zimbabwe’s unity government between 2009-13.

“How is it that a nation that is so poorly resourced can still behave in such a manner like there is so much money in the country yet we are facing a crisis?”

In response, finance secretary Willard Manungo said government was instituting measures to review expenses incurred in foreign travels.

Zimbabwe has diplomatic missions in 43 countries.

President Robert Mugabe has come under spotlight for his travels, which have seen him rake up air miles on visits to no less than 15 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia this year.