‘Zambia among best investment destinations’
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu is right to remind diplomats accredited to Zambia on the importance of dialogue so that all misunderstandings are cleared. After all, that is the whole essence of having resident ambassadors and high commissioners that at any one time, they are in constant touch with the host government to ensure that they are working in tandem. While the President did not give any specific example of any lapse in diplomatic circles, the nation is very aware of the storm caused by Britain’s High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus CochraneDyet. The British envoy leaked what was confidential information from the Zambian government to Africa Confidential over Britain’s alleged suspension of bilateral aid over misapplied funds under the Social Cash Transfer. What was more appalling was that the disclosure was made via twitter by the British envoy. It turned out later that long before Mr CochraneDyet broke diplomatic etiquette by announcing the “suspension” of aid, the Zambian government had actually ordered investigations into the funds. President Lungu’s special assistant for press and public relations Amos Chanda said though that the President was not happy with the pace of the investigations. On Monday, President Lungu stressed the importance of dialogue between diplomats and Government as that was key to having sound diplomatic relations. Mr Lungu said this when a business delegation from Switzerland, led by Swiss ambassador to Zambia Arthur Mattli paid a courtesy call on him at State House. President Lungu told the delegation that their visit was timely as they had come at a time when doomsayers where claiming that Zambia’s relations with Western countries was dwindling. President Lungu took the opportunity to advise diplomats that it was important for them to engage with him whenever there was something that seemed to be out of place. Yes, if the British High Commissioner had felt there was anything out of place, he had every right to request for a meeting with either the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the President himself. Yet what turned out was that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Joel Malanji was equally in the dark about the purported withdrawal of bilateral aid to Zambia. Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe also stepped in by assuring the nation that no bilateral partner had suspended aid to Zambia, save for the Social Cash Transfer support. Not that the donors do not have a right to complain if they feel their aid is being misused. They do, for they have to explain to their taxpayers how their money is being used. But this ought to be done through the proper diplomatic channels. That is the whole essence of diplomatic etiquette and tact. Zambia certainly does not want to deal with diplomats who want to play to the gallery to undermine her Government. Yes, we all know the underlying cause of the hostility coming from some Western capitals – China’s growing influence in the Third World. But even that is not an excuse for them to undermine Zambia’s choice of friends. As Mr Lungu said, Zambia has a right to choose her own friends and that the country would cooperate with others that had the same aspirations. And the Swiss delegation, coming so soon after the so-called misunderstandings with some countries, has come at the right time and prove to the world that Zambia has an open-door policy.