Performance contracts for Heads of Mission way to go

Chris Mahove

The signing of performance contracts by Zimbabwe’s head of missions has been described as a step in the right direction of the country is to get any meaningful results from its engagement and re-engagement efforts.

Analysts who spoke to the Review & Mail in separate interviews said many of the country’s ambassadors in foreign lands had become of tourists than representatives of the country.

Heads of Missions signed performance contracts last week following a similar exercise in February of this year by Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chief Executives of Public Entities and Local Authorities as part of the Whole of Government Performance Management System.

The signing of the contracts was based on the notion that the performance of government needed to be measured by results and not the many tasks and activities carried out by public officials.

Political analyst, Zunidza the signing of performance based contracts was the way to go, noting that there must be set goals for the country’s envoys through which their output must be judged.

“You will remember that there has been little results coming out of our diplomatic missions which has led many to view our ambassadors as tourists. It is commendable that the foreign affairs ministry is raising the bar a little,” he said.

Another analyst, Gideon Chitanga, concurred, saying ambassadors and diplomats in the whole contingent of officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were very important implementers of foreign policy relations goals, policies and instruments for the Zimbabwean government hence it was very important for them to have clarity on their goals and objectives in terms of what they should do, when and how.

“So this intervention I think is very important in terms of binding these key players to their goals. It is a very important departure from the previous situation where a lot of officials, diplomats and ambassadors were posted for political reasons to various embassies without any evidence of the work they did and obviously costing the taxpayer without validating or proving their worth,” he said, adding the signing of performance contracts was an important gesture in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and commitment to duty.

He, however, noted that there was need for more clarity on Zimbabwe’s foreign policy and what the nation sought to achieve through different offices in different countries.

“Much of the bigger costs to the tax payer into the fiscus goes to embassies that are political positions in the sense that they are created;  and we have officials posted there but the country does not get much in terms of its general broader foreign policy goals. So clarity on foreign policy and diplomatic outcomes that the government seeks is more important,” he added.

Chitanga said contractual obligations for Heads of Mission and other senior government officials should be framed within specific goals.

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