VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga has welcomed the nomination of Michael Gonzales to serve as US Ambassador to Zambia, saying he will help repair the damage caused after the last ambassador was sent out of the country by the PF government.
Recently, US President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Gonzales as US Ambassador to Zambia.
In an interview, Monday, Mwaanga expressed confidence that Gonzales would help enhance US, Zambia relations.
“I welcome his appointment, and I am sure that he will do well to serve the interest of not just the United States but also represent the interest of Zambia in bilateral discussions with the United States of America. I have been following his appointment to Zambia based on his experience, he has served in African countries before as the Deputy or what they call Deputy [Chief] for Mission (DCM) and he has been in the state department for a number of years. He is a career diplomat, and I am sure that he will do a lot to enhance US, Zambia relations. And also he will do a lot to repair the damage which was caused after the last ambassador was sent out of Zambia by the former government, the PF government,” he said.
Mwaanga said Zambia needed to be careful and professional in the manner it handled relations with the US, it being the largest economy in the world.
“For me, having been in the diplomatic service for many years and having been trained in fact by the British themselves, there are ways of avoiding what happened (to the previous ambassador). I think that what happened should have been avoided if there were more experienced people to handle bilateral issues between the United States of America and Zambia. Whether we like it or not, United States of America is the largest country in the world, in terms of economic power in the world, it’s number one power in the world. And how we handle relations with that country, we need to be very careful and very professional. So that we don’t run into no-go areas,” he said.
“What happened could have been avoided through a process of dialogue but obviously, they chose a different path to which we are entitled but certainly what happened I don’t think will happen again.”
And Mwaanga hoped that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would ensure that the diplomats sent out of the country were professional and adequately trained to represent the interests of Zambia.
“The world has become complicated now. It’s a more complex place now than it was a few years ago. So the diplomats we are training cannot master what is happening in the world in 10 days or in six weeks. There has to be a powerful training programme for those who will go into the diplomatic service, who must also have adequate qualifications to be able to understand the world. And I do hope that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will look into this matter and ensure that the diplomats we send out of the country, particularly those below the Ambassador level are professional and that they are adequately trained to represent the interest of Zambia,” said Mwaanga.