HARARE – The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Dr Beaullar Chirume, has sparked controversy by travelling to Saudi Arabia with her Minister, Tatenda Mavetera, in violation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s directive.
The President had instructed that permanent secretaries should not accompany their ministers on foreign trips as this would curtail their ministry’s service delivery and general Government business.
However, Dr Chirume ignored the order and joined Mavetera to attend the Universal Postal Union (UPU) Extra Ordinary Congress in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
According to sources, Mavetera has returned to Zimbabwe while Dr Chirume is still in Saudi Arabia and is expected to come back on Monday.
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, ran from 1 to 5 October 2023.
Addressing the first Cabinet meeting following his election victory, President Mnangagwa last week told his Cabinet and permanent secretaries to “remain guided by the relevant circular on foreign travel.”
“In this regard, no minister and permanent secretary can both be out of the country at the same time, as this has negative implications on service delivery and general Government business,” he charged.
“Further, travel outside the country will be strictly limited to those programmes which are of strategic importance and contribute to our country’s national priorities.”
Insiders say the ICT permanent secretary’s defiance raises questions about her motives and loyalty to the President’s policy pronouncements.
Others have argued that Dr Chirume was simply doing her job and that the trip was beneficial for the development of the ICT sector in Zimbabwe.
The Ministry of ICT has not issued any official statement on the matter and neither has the President’s office. It remains to be seen how the President will react to Dr Chirume’s actions and what consequences she will face.