Zimbabwe has not paid it’s member contribution to the United Nations for the past two years. This means that according to the rules the country is no longer allowed to vote at the General Assembly. What is rather shocking is the small amount that is owed: a mere US$81 770 which is about the price of a house in a middle density surbub. This has people up in arms on social media with some critising the government for such oversight. Others said the government should have been able to pay given Mthuli Ncube’s reported budget surplus.

Letter dated 13 January 2021 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General Assembly

1. At present. 10 Member States are in arrears under the terms of Article 19 of the Chiney of the United Nations, which states: A Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization 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 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

2. The minimum payments necessary to reduce the amounts owed by those Member States on their contributions so that they remain below the gross amount assessed for the preceding two full years (2019 and 20201 art as follows:

Central African Republic 29 195

Comoros’ 871 632

Congo 90 844

Iran (Islamic Republic of) 16 251 296

Libya 705 391

Niger 6 733

Sao Tome & Principe 829 888

Somalia 1 443 640

South Sudan 22 104

Zimbabwe 81 770

The text of the UN letter informing the General Assembly

The downside of ad-hoc policies

This is the downside of ad-hoc policies as opposed to holistic management of the economy. Plenty of things such as this which are supposed to be routine drop through the cracks. It’s inconceivable that over the past two years no one has informed the Zimbabwean government that they owed the UN. In any case whatever department that was tasked with and had been making payments prior to defaulting should have warned the government. That this did not happen paints a disturbing picture of chaos and winging it.