Ambassador-Designate to South Africa misconduct
By Dickson Jere
In 2010, Zambia President had to call his counterpart to find out why his Ambassador-Designate had not presented his “credentials” four months after his arrival in that country. It turned out that the host country was not happy that our Ambassador-Designate had started performing his duties without presenting his “Letters of Credence” and so the that African country decided to punish him by not giving him the appointment to present his credentials. Letter of Credence is a formal diplomatic letter that appoints a diplomat to another country and is personally presented by the Ambassador to the receiving Head of State. That signifies the start of work.
“He should have followed the diplomatic way of doing things,” the President said after he intervened.
President Rupiah Banda was a seasoned diplomat and always wanted things done by the book. He blasted the Ambassador-Designate for his undiplomatic conduct.
I was, therefore, concerned when I saw two pictures and stories depicting our Ambassador-Designate to South Africa, Major-General Jackson Miti, performing what appears to be official duties. Last week, he even accompanied the Speaker of the National Assembly to a conference in South Africa and his pictures were widely shared by his press office. I found it strange that Ambassador-Designate can be seen performing his duties when he has not presented his Letters of Credence. In diplomatic circles, that can be taken as an insult on the receiving country!
Ambassador-Designate cannot be seen performing official duties until he presents Letters of Credence to the receiving Head of State. While in the host country, Ambassador-Designate may only work in his office quietly without fanfare and public engagement. He is, in diplomatic custom, not allowed to attend to official duties outside his office or meet outsiders. The job of Ambassador only starts when he has presented his Letters to the receiving Head of State at a ceremony. You see, the process of appointing Ambassador is thorough and follows old-traditions. The name is first sent to the possible receiving country via an Agre’ment and that country either accept or refuse that name. When the name is cleared, that person is then formally appointed and sworn-in by his President but he cannot assume his duties in the receiving county until he presents his Letters of Credence to the Head of State.
So there is something strange about our South Africa Ambassador-Designate public engagements unless the custom has changed recently, which I doubt.
Below is picture of Speaker of National Assembly Patrick Matibini, SC and our Ambassador-Designate to South Africa Major General Jackson Miti at the Conference last week. Picture as circulated by his Press Office.