LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has recalled 95 diplomats and retrenched 123 local staff in the country’s 23 foreign mission in a bid to cut costs.
The ministry has spent about MK1.2 billion for the completion of the exercise to pay for the retrenched local staff in 20 embassies, and three consulates.
The Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Dalitso Kabambe, disclosed the development this week in Lilongwe, during a meeting he had with the Parliamentary Committee on International Affairs.
Kabambe told the committee that the exercise has resulted in the ministry reducing its monthly wage bill from MK1.3 billion to MK500 million saying before the process most missions had 18 or more diplomats.
The Foreign Affairs Secretary said government recalled diplomats that had stayed in the mission for over 13 years, which is against the Foreign Ministry’s 36-month period provision.
He said that over half of the recalled diplomats are those that were hired from private sector, and have parted ways with government after the expiry of their contracts, while diplomats who originated from various governments departments, have been assigned to other duties.
Kabambe disclosed that some missions including Zimbabwe’s, had 29 local staff who were receiving salaries as ranging as high as US$5,000, to US$7,000, which had a huge negative impact of the Ministry’s wage bill.
Kabambe therefore said the aim of the exercise is to have six diplomats, and six local staff in each of the country’s missions.
Responding on children, friends, relatives of politicians and influential figures that are in missions, Kabambe assured the committee that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was in the process of replacing non-professionals with professionals and said some of the non-professionals, were waiting for the end of their tour of duty and will be replaced.
“The contracts for some five or six diplomats also expired but they told the ministry that there are some personal issues they needed to finalise before their moving back to Malawi and what government has done is to delete them on the payroll,” Kabambe said.
“They no longer receive any emoluments from the Ministry as we stopped paying them the foreign services allowances. We stopped paying the rentals and school fees for their children though not easy to uproot them to come back home. Even three of them had to take us to court, but all cases were won,” Kabambe said.
The Parliamentary Committee on International Affairs Chairperson, Alex Meja, while applauding the Foreign Ministry cutting costs exercise, and improving the bilateral agreements, the Ministry was not doing enough to attract investors and traders through foreign missions.