Ambassador Katsande fingered in UK-Zim House renovations scandal

ZIMBABWE ambassador to the United Kingdom, Colonel Christian Katsande (Rtd), is under fire for allegedly inflating the cost of renovations to his government-owned London residence by hundreds of thousands of US dollars, Zim Morning Post has heard.

The country’s chief envoy to the United Kingdom is said to have connived with service providers to bill Government US$1,2 million for renovations which would see the parties sharing the difference after the routine touch-ups.

A typical home in London is worth around £700,000 (US$892,037.98) according to UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research.

This publication also understands that the ambassador and his family have meanwhile moved into an US$8 500 per month residence in uptown London as they await completion of the renovations.

A source close the events raised the red flag, asking how mere renovations could hit the US$1,2 million-mark while purchase of a full house similar to the one under renovation can hardly fetch that much.

“Mostly, it would be putting in place a new floor, doors and a new carpet. For that, US$7 000 would suffice. What work is being done so that it costs a whooping US$1,2 million? Even building a descent house doesn’t cost that much,” the Zim Morning Post source based in the UK, who preferred anonymity, said.

Zim Morning Post on Saturday texted both Katsande and the Information ministry permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana, for a response to the allegations but nothing came out of it, despite indications that both senior government officials had read the messages sent to them.

“And anyway, the Government of Zimbabwe is riddled with about US$153 000 in tax to the UK government so embarking on such white elephant projects as costly renovations doesn’t make sense at all,” the source added.

Zimbabwe and 22 other countries, among them Iran and Sudan, were last year named as owing the UK government a cumulative US$1,8 million in unpaid business rates.

A Parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2019 noted high debt accumulation in missions while Zimbabwe’s embassy staff around the world were living in deplorable conditions.

Meanwhile, there are also allegations that the country’s chief envoy to the United Kingdom has a brother, Nzwanayi, who is employed as an embassy driver and is earning more than US$6 300 monthly.

“Since when have drivers earned more than nurses, teachers and other professionals like lawyers, even in the UK? Surely, there is something amiss in Katsande’s world,” said the Zim Morning Post source.