HARARE – Members of Parliament want to join President Robert Mugabe’s entourage in all his foreign junkets.
Kindness Paradza, Zanu PF MP for Makonde, tabled the proposal during a hearing by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday.
Paradza, a former newspaper publisher and farmer, asked Joey Bimha, permanent secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, to include lawmakers from the Foreign Affairs committee on the list of delegates on all foreign trips undertaken by Mugabe.
“Since we overshadow the ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have not seen members of this committee accompanying the president on foreign trips to international summits, yet it is one of our oversight role to do so,” Paradza said.
“We want also to be involved in re-engagement with the foreign governments.”
Bimha said the delegation that travels with Mugabe was compiled by the President’s office.
“We only facilitate with technical expertise on the delegation, but however as a ministry, we are ready to engage on that issue and forward your request to his office,” Bimha said.
Bimha said legislators were free to get involved in the re-engagement processes aimed at fighting Western sanctions.
Lawmakers also asked Bimha to help them acquire diplomatic passports so that they can have easy travel while on Parliament business.
Bimha said his ministry only facilitates the acquisition of diplomatic passports but the list originates from the president’s office.
“We are not responsible for issuing out diplomatic passports, but we only act as facilitators for one to have his diplomatic passport,” Bimha said. “This was the case for (Zimbabwean Olympic medalist) Kirsty Coventry whose name was forwarded to us from the president’s office so that we help her to get her diplomatic passport. I am going to communicate your request to the relevant office so that it can be attended to.”
Enock Porosingazi, Zanu PF MP for Chipinge South and chairperson of the committee, said the legislators were keen to learn more about diplomatic duties and called for a workshop for legislators on international relations.
Bimha said that his ministry was facing financial challenges. He, however, added that his ministry was able to pay salaries for diplomats serving in Zimbabwe’s foreign missions.
The legislators were informed that 15 ambassadors were going to be recalled in December as they have finished their four-year tour of duty.
Some will be redeployed to other countries, he said.
Zimbabwe has 45 foreign missions.