Government will acquire housing units for diplomats in the Foreign Service in order to cut down on the huge bill spent on renting accommodation for staff.
Government has also disclosed that it has sourced funds to rehabilitate its dilapidated properties that were serving as residences for heads of mission or office accommodation in Zambia’s foreign missions.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary in charge of Administration, Dr. Ronald Simwinga, who is in Stockholm, Sweden, has announced that he is on a tour of duty, which will also take him to Berlin, Germany, to take stock of the state of properties owned by the Zambian Government. The exercise is also meant to establish how best to approach the problem of run-down infrastructure owned by the Government in the missions.
The Zambian Government owns the 112 year-old building which houses the ambassador’s residence in Stockholm. It also owns the residence of the ambassador and the chancery in Berlin.
Dr. Simwinga who met Zambia’s Ambassador to Sweden, Her Excellency Ms. Rose Salukatula and staff at the embassy also took a conducted tour of the residence during which it was established that the structure was in a dilapidated state and needed urgent extensive works to make it more habitable.
The Permanent Secretary, who is accompanied by Director for Development Cooperation and International Organisations, Mr. Eliphas Chinyonga, further advised that the embassy needed to identify suitable housing units that Government could buy for diplomats.Dr. Simwinga said all the 38 Zambian missions will be covered, with the first roll-out catering for Stockholm, Berlin, London, Washington DC, New Delhi, Pretoria, Accra, Nairobi and Harare.
“We are keen to find a lasting solution to the challenges posed by dilapidated infrastructure that diplomats have been facing in a number of Missions. We have managed to secure some funds which we want to use to resolve this long-standing problem and we also believe that Zambia can save a lot of money if we acquired our own property for diplomats as opposed to renting,” he said.
“We want to use this money for rehabilitation and construction or procurement of new housing units for diplomats,” he added.
Dr. Simwinga said Government will now wait for the affected Missions to submit proposals on what kind of improvements they would like made to their structures as well as identify suitable units for purchase or indicate whether it would be feasible to construct housing units, altogether.
Ambassador Salukatula thanked the Permanent Secretary for showing special interest and taking steps to find a lasting solution to issues of accommodation for diplomats.
Ms. Salukatula told Dr. Simwinga that the state of the house had deteriorated to a level where it required urgent attention to make it more habitable and save it from further depreciation.
The Permanent Secretary also took time to discuss various issues at the embassy in Stockholm which included cooperation with governments and the private sector in countries of accreditation, staff operational matters as well as funding challenges.
Dr. Simwinga later met locally engaged staff whom he urged to put in their best in supporting diplomatic staff so that the objectives of the mission could be attained.
ZAMBIAN EMBASSY IN SWEDEN