Closing down the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs because it has become irrelevant and a sheer waste of public resources may be a little extreme.
The sentiment expressed by Solwezi Central Member of Parliament Lucky Mulusa may indeed be extreme but aptly capture the frustration and disappointment that has accompanied the almost total staff turnover of Diplomatic mission staff since the Patriotic Front came into office.
Speaking in Parliament Hon. Mulusa observed that the “en masse” recall of seasoned career diplomats who were replaced by PF cadres and relative had rendered the missions virtually inoperative and dysfunctional.
The situation has been further compounded by the recruitment of totally inexperienced personnel to open new mission.
There are many harrowing stories in whichcivil servants such as immigration officers have also been recalled to be replaced by cadres who knew little or nothing about the functions of such an officer in a mission, qualified accounting staff had been replaced by cadres with no experience.
These are the anecdotal stories told of the current status of our missions abroad.
These may be an exaggeration but the reality is that not all is well in our missions and as Parliament heard yesterday a number of issues were responsible, the most important of which was nepotism and sheer favoritism at the expense of experience.
There is indeed a level to which an incoming regime will change staff to reflect its philosophy often enunciated by a Manifesto or constitution. This is hardly the case with our situation where our foreign policy has not been articulated to an extent where a specialized cadre would be expected to implement.
Changes in the mission therefore were completely utilitarian intended to give jobs and favours as a reward to cadres and friends.
Job opportunities and openings in missions should be advertised and young people from universities should be encouraged to apply and thereafter train for postings so that Zambia sends out diplomats who are knowledgeable and will be able to add value to the diplomatic enterprise of our country.
The modern world requires us to compete with the best in the world and any hope of transcending the poverty divide will only come from an informed development process that borrows from successful experiences in other parts of the world.
We do not need to re-invent the wheel we instead need to find technology that gives us the best wheel that will sell globally. But this requires that we spend on experienced technocrats who are able to study compare and even contrast our own best practices with those of other countries in order to improve our productivity and quality.It Is a common experience that as countries develop, there is a market shift from manual to mechanized production and in the modern age there is the resort to electro mechanical production.
We cannot run away from this.