The Diplomat Gag Order
By Dickson Jere
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga has announced a gag order on diplomats issuing statements without authority from foreign affairs. I have no qualms about the order as it is correct government procedure. In my time, under President Rupiah Banda, such statements were frown upon and in fact called for a recall. I remember the President almost recalled his son, Andrew, for issuing statements especially on local issues when he served as diplomat in Italy. The logic being that local issues will be dealt with by local staff while those in foreign service should concentrate on representing the country and attending to Zambians outside the country. I have advised colleagues in foreign service on this point even few days!
However, my point is with the letter from the PS. I wonder why it was addressed to media organisations instead of diplomatic staff. Editors should be allowed to choose what to publish or not. If a diplomat wants to put his head on the chopping board and goes against the directive, the government media should not be blamed. Blame the truant diplomat! And the directive is targeted at government owned media houses. So what happens if diplomats choose the private media to issue statements?