President Rupiah Banda has commended Zambian diplomats accredited to various countries for the role they played in safeguarding and promoting the country’s interests in their respective missions.
And Mr. Banda has appealed to the envoys to aggressively market Zambia’s potential in various economic sectors in countries where they are serving.
Speaking when he addressed Zambian Heads of Missions abroad at Chisamba’s Protea Hotel today, President Banda said as people representing Zambia in many lands, the envoys must gather as much information as possible to ensure that the country’s interests were safeguarded.
ZANIS reports that Mr. Banda said this was important especially that diplomacy was no longer political but more of economical.
He noted that with a lot of misinformation about happenings in the country, all Zambian diplomats should understand and defend the country against all forms of misinformation.
The President noted that it was saddening that most of the misinformation was coming from dishonest people in Zambia whose intentions were to misrepresent the actual happenings in the country.
“You as diplomats have a critical role to play in safeguarding our interests in the countries where you are working. We know you hear a lot of things about what some people say was happening and unfortunately this does not only misinform you but also unsettles you,” he said.
He assured the diplomats that his government had no time to spend on responding to criticism which he said was mostly meant to derail the many achievements the country had scored in various sectors of the economy.
And the President advised the envoys to ensure that they disseminated information on investment opportunities in Zambia to both citizens in foreign countries and Zambians in the diaspora.
Mr. Banda challenged the diplomats to explain the economic transformation the country had gone through in various sectors.
He said Zambia had recorded a lot of development which needed to be publicised to both foreigners and Zambians abroad.
Meanwhile, President Banda has disclosed that he had continued to receive reports of squabbles among members of staff in various missions abroad.
Mr. Banda said such squabbles were unnecessary because they have the potential to damage the country’s image abroad.
He noted that there was need for all envoys to provide exemplary leadership to both Zambians abroad and people in the countries they work from.
President Banda further said as a former diplomat, he understood the challenges diplomats were facing in dealing with various issues at their missions.
He explained that some of the reported squabbles were merely as a result of petty jealous.
The President advised the Zambian diplomats to ensure that they handled such cases as parents and heads of missions.
“Because of your level and as heads of mission, you should handle and look at these issues like parents because some of our staff are young and have no experience so they tend to be too excited,” he advised.
The President explained that he decided to raise the issue openly so that all diplomats could rise to the occasion and find lasting solutions to such challenges.
Mr. Banda thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ensuring that the mandatory meeting for Zambian Heads of Mission abroad, which failed to take place last year, was held this year.
He also thanked the ministry for including in their programme, a tour of selected economic sectors saying this would help the envoys articulate issues effectively.
Before the conference of Heads of Mission and Senior Management which is being held under the theme: ‘ Effective Diplomacy for Sustainable National Development’, the diplomats toured Kansanshi Mine in North Western Province, Kasumbalesa Border Post on the Copperbelt and Nansanga Farming Block in Central Province.
And speaking earlier, Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Lucy Mungoma said the conference was organised to update the envoys on what was happening in the country and to afford them an opportunity to speak to key stakeholders and line ministries.
At the same occasion, Dean of Zambian Diplomats abroad, Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika commended Government for the many developments the country had recorded in various sectors of the economy.
Dr. Mbikusita-Lewanika also congratulated President Banda on his election as MMD party president.
She said the conference was important because it accorded envoys, an opportunity to share knowledge on the many issues affecting their work.
Dr Mbikutsita-Lewanika assured the nation that the money the country was spending on missions abroad was paying off because diplomats played a key role in attracting investments in the country.
The Dean of Zambian diplomats abroad also pledged the envoys’ continued efforts to advertise and market Zambia’s investment opportunities to the outside world.
She however called for more information in terms of brochures and DVDs on the many opportunities the country offers.
“We need more information in languages that people in the countries we operate from can appreciate,” she said.
She also commended President Banda for his efforts to attract investments in the country which she said had yielded many positive results.