‘Zam­bia among best in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tions’

Daily Nation Newspaper - - Front Page -

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.

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