Zimbabwe could lose a sizeable chunk of its multi-million dollar aid from the United States just because some of its diplomats in Washington have not been paying parking fines.
Republican senator Jesse Helms is proposing that under a new amendment to the Foreign Aid Bill, aid be withheld until those parking fines have been settled.
Another suggestion is that the fines be deducted from the aid to be given.
Zimbabwe is reported to have failed to pay parking fines estimated at US$67 000 (about Z$440 000). It is only behind Egypt whose parking fines are US$80 000 and Nigeria with US$150 000.
The parking fines have been accumulating because diplomats are immune from arrest and prosecution.
Although the Harare City Council has been facing a similar problem, it says it only lost Z$95 654.62 last year for providing privileged parking to diplomatic missions and foreign agents. The council is, however, reimbursed 50 percent of these losses by the government.
US aid to Zimbabwe is quite substantial. By the end of July, for example, Zimbabwe had been given Z$32.5 million to support grain marketing research.
It has also been given Z$54.8 million for family planning since August 1990. Zimbabwe now has the best family planning programme in sub-Saharan Africa.
The US is also supporting the development of the private sector, local and foreign investment and the expansion of indigenous enterprises. It has ploughed Z$34.6 million into this programme since August 1991.
A further Z$50.4 million was committed to training aimed at strengthening the private sector. This programme has been on since May 1986.