LUSAKA — Foreign Affairs minister Stanley Kakubo has said no diplomat from the ministry is allowed back from their mission to specifically campaign.
Presenting a ministerial statement on the ministry’s budget for 2022, Kakubo said diplomats that had been recalled so far had disciplinary issues.
“I also want to correct the impression that a lot of diplomats are being recalled; we are doing this in a phased manner; not all of them have been recalled. But key to all those that have been recalled are those that have been recalled on disciplinary issues,” he told Parliament on Friday.
“No diplomat is allowed from our ministry to come back from their mission to specifically come and campaign. But that’s what happened with the PF.
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“Discipline must grow in the civil service and that includes in our foreign missions. Colleagues, I want to make sure that the House is informed that the recall of diplomats by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is standard practice across the globe. It is not a new phenomenon, just like deploying diplomats into foreign service is standard, recall is also standard.”
Kakubo explained that diplomats were expected to serve for about four to five years after which they are recalled to give opportunity to others that have trained.
“In line with our economic diplomacy posture based on trade and investment, we are already in the process of re-defining how our missions will work. This process is already being done, and colleagues, it’s very important that we don’t bring into question the sovereignty of our country,” Kakubo said.
“Our country is sovereign, even our engagement with multilateral institutions is coming from that position. Our engagements with institutions like the IMF are strategic. Mr Chairperson, I find it ironic that the PF today are demonising us for approaching the IMF.”
He explained how desperate the PF were to get IMF help over the huge national debt they accumulated when they were in power.
“Your position, colleagues, is that you went into the capital market and borrowed heavily. The President’s posture now, the President’s mission now, if at all we must borrow, it must be on concession. And the IMF is one institution that helps countries that are in dire need of recapitalisation on concessional basis,” he said.
On the country’s need to engage the European Union (EU), Kakubo said on Thursday that President Hakainde Hichilema had a meeting with ambassadors from the region accredited to Zambia.
He said the meeting implied that Zambia was in good standing with the EU.
“Our President travelled to the Congo this last] week, he went to consult on peace issues including issues in Ethiopia. He was consulting his counterpart President [Felix] Tshisekedi who happens to be the chairman of AU.
“Just last week, I had a telephone conversation – an hour long telephone conversation with my counterpart from Ethiopia to discuss the peace situation in that country and how Zambia is supporting the many initiatives, also…to move Zambians out of Ethiopia,” Kakubo explained.
“Again, it was strategic and also to ensure that Zambians who are abroad are equally taken care of. And the President was the first, if not the only African leader to be proactive in that regard.”
And Kakubo said his ministry was seeking to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Copperbelt University to train diplomats at the institution.
“Very soon we will be signing an MoU that will ensure that our diplomats are trained to degree level,” said Kakubo.