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Gandawa blasts govt failure to service UN debt

FORMER Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa has blasted the new dispensation under President Emmerson Mnangagwa for failing to pay US$81 000 membership fees to the United Nations, causing the country to lose its voting rights.

Gandawa yesterday told NewsDay that the failure by government to pay its dues to the UN exposed Finance minister Mthuli Ncube's "false" claims that the administration had managed a budget surplus.

Zimbabwe is among 10 countries that have since lost their voting rights over failure to pay their arrears at the UN. The others are Iran, which owes the UN US$16 251 298, Somalia (US$1 443 640), Comoros (US$829 632), Sao Tome and Principe (US$829 888), Libya (US$705 391), Congo (US$90 844), Central African republic (US$29 395), South Sudan (US$22 804) and Niger (US$6 733).

"At present, 10 member States are in arrears under the terms of article 19 of the Charter of the UN which states that a member of the UN which is in arrears in the payment of financial contributions to the organisation shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years," the UN letter released last week, which announced the countries in arrears, read in part.

"The General Assembly may nevertheless permit such a member to vote if it is satisfied that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member."

But Gandawa said the failure by Mnangagwa's administration to pay its UN arrears shows that its main focus is pretending that the country is managing its finances, instead of facing reality.

"While Ncube claims to have recorded a surplus, Zimbabwe has just had its voting rights at the UN General Assembly suspended due to non-payment of US$81 000. This is what happens when a government is focused on propaganda instead of reality," he said.

"We cannot, on one hand, be begging for vaccines and food aid, while on the other, we are claiming that we are enjoying a budget surplus. President Mnangagwa appears to have been taken in by Ncube's deception, but the public is living the reality and knows that there is no such surplus in their lives," he said.

In April last year, Ncube claimed that the country realised a budget surplus of almost $1 billion in December 2019.

But Gandawa described Ncube's budget surplus claims as a smokescreen.

Acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere was unreachable for comment on the issue.

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