Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji says government owes no particular tribe any favour in terms of employment.
Meanwhile, Mbabala UPND member of parliament Ephraim Belemu says the PF government is responsible for Zambia’s poor image to the outside world because of its tendency to allow unqualified cadres comment on diplomatic issues.
Speaking when he debated on the 2020 Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget totalling to K2,039,757 for the headquarters and K16,025,800 for Zambia’s Missions abroad, Belemu said the PF government was embarrassing the nation by allowing unqualified cadres castigate diplomats.
“We have seen embarrassing moments where cadres in the PF go on radio or TV castigating the international institutions, such as the time that the-then Minister of Finance, Honourable Margaret Mwanakatwe, was preparing to go for the IMF-World Bank spring meetings, the same week, PF cadres go on radio and on TV castigating the IMF of how ‘Zambia didn’t need the IMF!’ That is undermining our diplomacy as a country. We have had people that project hate speech and on the other hand, you are talking about the positive image of the nation. We are undermining ourselves as a country by allowing people that are less competent to comment on some of the international matters that probably hinge on our relations with other countries,” Belemu said.
“We have had PF cadres there castigating some Ambassadors and High Commissioners in the country! We are undermining the country by allowing PF cadres to be commenting or to be making positions on matters of international relations. This is a very critical element of our governance as a country. We are calling for zero hate speech emanating from PF leaders; we are calling for PF to organize themselves in such a manner that not just any cadre can speak about some of our engagements at international-level because they are not qualified to do so. They are embarrassing the country!”
Belemu also said it was shocking how people with questionable characters were sometimes found on the presidential entourage when travelling abroad.
“Government delegations sometimes attend to forums where we expect professionals to be in the President’s entourage, but we have seen the people that alight of the Presidential plane are people who have no competence in international diplomacy, some of them with very dubious professional characters! And where you go, mind you, those people research, it’s not just like you in PF who don’t want to read and research, but those people want to know which character is accompanying the President. And some of those moments have been very embarrassing. Allow your professionals to perform that role where you have professionals. I think to summarize, PF is to blame squarely for the poor image of this nation, for their lack of understanding, for hate speech, for disorganization in the governance of this nation,” argued Belemu.
But in winding up the debate, Malanji insisted that government owed no tribe any favours of employment into the diplomatic service.
“There was a cry of nepotism and tribal appointments. Mr Chairman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is served by every corner of this country. The government owes no particular tribe a favour,” Malanji said.
He also claimed that some foreign diplomats who had left Zambia were shedding tears of joy after seeing how “good the country is.”
“There are people that come here (Zambia) and shed tears of joy when they find how good this country is! The list of diplomats that have been here and intending to come back to come and stay here as permanent residents is quite big! So, that is a testimony than Zambia is worth a country that one would love to live in. The Ministry has got no capacity to control social media. Social media has actually been abused and there is very little that our Ministry can do because some people will just comment thinking when you comment, it will just remain in Monze, not knowing that when you Tweet, it goes all over [even] outside Dundumwezi! The best we can do is to ask our citizens to refrain from commenting on matters that are beyond our boundaries,” said Malanji.