An interesting story earlier this week on the foreign policy front. The Government plans to open new embassies around the world. In the words of the Foreign Minister:
"The emphasis on economic diplomacy, which mainly refers to promoting economic relations not only among states but also with non-state actors to enhance economic development, has indeed changed the face of international relations world-over. It is against this background that Zambia plans to open more missions in strategic regions in the world in order to enhance political and economic relations....The issue of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) shall also occupy centre stage in the country’s foreign interactions,”Naturally, I support a refocus of our foreign policy towards development goals. Zambia has for many years wasted money on pointless political adventures. However, I would be even more supportive of Mr Pande's new initiative if it comes with some closures of other embassies. I don't see why we should spend new revenue from the mines only to reward political appointees with new posts? There are a number of Zambian embassies around the world that simply wastes tax payers money. Equally there are some places in the world where Zambia should be forging new economic ties (e.g. Latin America). Zambia has a limited pot of funds new criteria is needed for determining where an embassy is necessary. I suggest a country should qualify for an embassy if it fulfills any of the following :
- Major trading partner (e.g. China)
- Has more than average of Zambian diaspora living there (e.g. USA / UK)
- Large contributor of aid (e.g. Norway)
- Home to an international organisation Zambia belongs to (e.g. UN, SADC)
I decidedly suggest that reciprocity should be abandoned. If other countries want representation in Zambia, that should be their business. We have a limited pot of funds and should be driven by economic imperatives.
In the meantime, the President has acknowledged that many embassies are not managing the tax payers money properly. Which raises further questions on the very wisdom of having additional embassies.