By George M. Chelah
A CLASSIC DIPLOMATIC OWN-GOAL
Browsing through DA leader Mmusi Maimane and EFF leader Julius Malema’s sarcastic responses to the ‘summon’ issued by Zambia for them to dialogue with President Edgar Lungu pertaining issues to our country’s democratic order and governance sent shivers down my spin.
I don’t know about you but for me, as soon as I read the ‘summoning’ statement, I saw fire on the mountain; I smelled sulphur; I knew that a volcano of sarcasm was about to rapture. To be honest, I was left wondering where this affinity for scoring ‘diplomatic own-goals’ is coming from. Why would we be so reckless as a country to yet again throw ourselves back in a strategic trap owing to our own diplomatic blunders at the behest of overzealous public officers?
It’s always a concern when you notice unwarranted diplomatic blunders with a striking potential of placing the Presidency in an awkward situation taking a pole position in our international relations and international media; and the ‘summoning’ of Malema and Maimane falls in that category of such diplomatic blunders. It doesn’t require rocket science for anyone to see that the ‘summoning’ of Malema and Maimane was bound to end up the way it has ended – in embarrassment. Whose idea was it even anyway? What was the calculated end -game? Where in the globe do diplomats publicize a consultation involving the Head of State when confirmation of attendance by the invited or is it ‘summoned’ parties hangs in the balance? Be as it may, was special attention even paid to the wording of the press statement issued because the word ‘summon’ was not only inappropriate, but also expectedly deserving of the backlash it invited? What really informed this drama and was it even necessary?
I have said it before that diplomacy is a highly sophisticated and specialized field. Diplomacy is never a public spectacle or recognition seeking ride. More importantly, diplomacy is anchored in conscientious approach to potential delicate matters so as to avert unnecessary embarrassment on the state and its Presidency. The sanctity of diplomacy lies in confidentiality and closed-door engagements and not in press releases and media interviews.
From where I stand, today, once again, Zambia has scored an own-goal; we have literally walked away with a blooded nose from a fight that was totally unnecessary, ultimately aiding Malema and Maimane to effortlessly score some significant political points. If this is not outright diplomatic ignorance then somebody is out to sabotage the Presidency. Please let us save the Presidency and the citizens from perpetual confusions and humiliation.