PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says he is aware that some public officials like Permanent Secretaries sometimes forget why they were appointed into office and are advancing their personal interests, instead of serving the people.

And President Hichilema says people on social media could be wondering why Colonel Panji Kaunda has been appointed, adding that there could only be one High Commissioner to Malawi at a time.

The President was speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of High Commissioners and Ambassadors, Friday.

Those who were sworn in include; former UPND national chairperson Stephen Katuka as High Commissioner to Namibia, Colonel Panji Kaunda as High Commissioner to Malawi, Paulo Kosita as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Duncan Mulima as Ambassador Extraordinary to Saudi Arabia and Eunice Luambia as Ambassador Extraordinary to Geneva, Switzerland.

President Hichilema insisted on the need for those in public office to prioritise national interest.

“What you have accepted to do voluntarily, not coerced, is a call to service, to serve the people of Zambia. It means you have agreed to surrender your personal interest in terms of priority. So the priority is national interest. I am empasing this so [that] we understand what this government’s intentions are, which is to serve the people and not to be served. The Vice President and I were elected just as the Permanent Secretaries did but sometimes they forget and I am watching. They forget that they are there because they were appointed by the President who was appointed through an election by the people of Zambia. This is the order,” he said.

“One cannot exist in isolation of service delivery in any position in this country. Even a director, town clerk, the council secretaries and sometimes they forget. Daily in the offices, they are advancing their personal interests. Chasing things not for the people but for themselves. That is wrong. We must pursue interest for the people of Zambia first. When we do it properly our own interest will be taken care of. That is the way it should work. Let us serve the people’s interest first.”

And President Hichilema said social media could be wondering why Col Kaunda had been appointed, adding that there could only be one High Commissioner to Malawi at a time.

He further urged the diplomats to ensure that they delivered, not just dressing “nicely to attend cocktails four times a week”.

“You need to accelerate economic and social development. The lady going to Geneva, you have been in the Foreign Affairs as a young lady and you know what we want from there. Going to Geneva is not a time to keep on sending perfumes for nephews and nieces. Your nieces can buy perfume online, they do not need you to buy perfume. Those are old ways. Many UN agencies are there and what you need to do is understand how to leverage such relations to benefit the Ministry of Health. I know High Commissioners, diplomatic staff and Ambassadors believe in cocktails. This government wants economic diplomacy to take center stage. We cannot just be importing but we need to be exporting,” he said.

“The colleague going to Namibia, next month, we expect to sign an MoU for oil and gas. Part of my personal agenda on behalf of the people of Zambia is to lower the cost of energy. So that Kazungula Bridge means something to us to improve this economy. That MoU means from there we must act. There is no issue that ‘I am not an economist’, this is not economics just get that thing signed. Before you dress nicely to go to cocktails four times a week, remember that MoU. I am sure social media is following and people are saying ‘why Colonel Kaunda and why not X’? It is okay. There can only be one high commissioner to Malawi at a time. Tomorrow it will be somebody else. But to address those concerns is to deliver.”

President Hichilema said there was need to unite and bring fairness in the missions.

“The list is carefully selected. Those who have been in the civil service already and now it is time for them to progress to the level that they have been sworn in today. This mix we believe has to bring the country in its diversity. Comparing notes is important, and do not work in isolation. Get to know the agenda of this government which is to unite this country. I know some Zambians have been saying we do not love this methodical process but it is a way to do things. [When] running a country, you need to get your sequence right and understand what has gone wrong in the last seven to 10 years. You cannot go in to find a solution to a problem you cannot understand,” he said.

“We have looked into the missions that we inherited and they were lopsided and there is no question about that. So do not continue with that practice. The UPND government which brings you into this office wants to reunite the country. So look at how you can unite and bring fairness in the mission then we will depart from the past. Not long ago I was dealing with a matter of one Embassy where the leader of the Embassy was dividing the staff in the Embassy and getting them to work against each other. How can you do that as a leader? Please take care of that.”

President Hichilema added that those appointed in foreign missions would have key performance indicators, as this would enhance service delivery.

“So we will be monitoring you. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has two PSs and they are there to get the job done. If you are tired, you know what to do. Work with these colleagues and give them support. Minister of Foreign Affairs we expect deliverables. We agreed in Cabinet that even us in Cabinet will have specific actionable points for delivery. For these to deliver, they must have key performance indicators,” said President Hichilema.