Disgraceful conduct


WHATEVER the cause, whatever the reason, the detention of our diplomatic mission staff member  at the Julius Nyerere Airport in Dar-es-Salaam is an act of flagrant abuse of authority that must be dealt with in the strongest terms possible.

It is a disgrace of international proportions that a mission can generate a letter to cancel a passport and thereby cause the detention of a Zambian diplomat in a cell without a toilet and water all because of internal office misunderstanding.

Public offices should not be used to settle personal scores and where this is done it must attract the severest possible sanction to stop impunity and set an example to other public officers not to do the same especially where such actions disgrace the public in a foreign country.

This is a total disgrace.

It is even more cruel and inhuman that this can be done to a person who has a family in Tanzania and has an ailing 72-year old mother living at his house, which the mission does not want him to visit.

This is not diplomatic administration; this is sheer, savagery, inhumanity and callous disregard for humanity.  Even criminals are treated better than what is happening to Yosi Miti in Dar-es-Salaam, who has now spent four nights at the airport.

How can our high commissioner, a family person, allow a situation where another individual is denied entry because of personal differences which then spill to her country of accreditation, which finds itself in a quandary on how to treat a Zambian diplomat.

The fact that Miti won litigation against his termination does not justify the manner he was treated. There is no licence in public office for revenge and retribution in a manner that impacts negatively on the country’s image.

It does not matter if instructions came from Lusaka, or if indeed the head of the mission in Tanzania took it upon herself to instruct the Government of Tanzania to deny entry to an estranged member of staff, the situation could have been better handled, and need not have come to the attention of international media as is the case now.

This is a domestic matter that should have been resolved in the mission, failure of which the Ministry should have used all possible means to extract the officer and his family out of Tanzania rather than subject a Zambian family man and mission staff to the humiliation of detention at the airport.

As it stands Miti has a family in Tanzania but more importantly has an ailing 72-year-old mother suffering from hypertension and who must certainly be outraged and anguished by the detention of her son at the airport, a few kilometres from his house.

Ordinarily mission staff get diplomatic immunity for the purposes of saving them from such humiliation and yet at of our own volition we decide to subject a diplomat to this scandal.

This is utterly reprehensible and goes to show that some officers in our missions have no clue about diplomatic etiquette, let alone human relations.

A few months ago a Zambian diplomat, Langford Banda, apparently while heavily intoxicated, crashed into a police vehicle in the United States of America.

Immediately US police realized that he was a diplomat they could not execute standard drunk driving procedures although police reported that he was stumbling and smelt heavily of alcohol. Fortunately the two police officers in whose car he crashed suffered only minor injuries.

The US Government would have been justified to lock up Mr. Banda for driving under the influence of alcohol, and deport him, but conventions dictate against such action.  Mr. Banda was given ample time to leave the United States, peacefully, and without undue harassment.

Why then should we as a country expose our internal failures by ordering another country to subject our diplomat to a humiliating and embarrassing situation.

Any Zambian, diplomat or not, is allowed to enter Tanzania.  There is therefore no justification to ban Miti from entering that country, especially by the Zambian Government.  It would have been justifiable if the mission did not want him to enter their offices, but this is not the case.

The country is watching to see what action will be taken over this despicable, irrational and totally unacceptable conduct by the Zambian mission in Dar-es-Salaam.