The government has appointed 19 people to head the country’s array of diplomatic missions pending confirmation by the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament.
However, in the wake of the diplomatic scandal in South Africa, where Malawi’s representatives have been embroiled in controversy bordering on, according to the South African government, “abuse of diplomatic privileges”, University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri has cautioned the government to consider integrity when making appointments.
“It is important to consider the issue of integrity, other than that of political affiliation, when sending people on diplomatic missions. Appointed people should also be mature so that they can ably handle matters pertaining to their office,” he said.
On Sunday, Pac Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo said six out of the 19 appointed persons had been confirmed.
The 19 include Esme Chombo, Wezi Moyo, Leornard Mengezi, Joseph Mpinganjira and Agness Mary Chimbiri.
President Lazarus Chakwera has also appointed former first lady Callista Mutharika, Charles Peter Msosa, Kwacha Chisiza, among others, to diplomatic missions.
Briefing journalists yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Eisenhower Mkaka said the appointments had been made on merit.
“What I can confirm is that qualified Malawians have been appointed by the President to represent this country. We looked at qualification, moral ground and moral capital to represent this country. This is because what has happened in South Africa has taught us that we need people that have integrity,” he said
Mkaka said, meanwhile, the ministry had deployed about three temporary officers to its consulate offices in South Africa; that is, both in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
“What we do not want to see is operations being disrupted. We have deployed the temporary staff as we finalise the process of deploying permanent staff to the mission,” he said
The government of South Africa, through its Department of International Relations and Cooperation, expelled diplomats from several countries, including Malawi and Lesotho, following what it describes as a tax scam orchestrated through the buying of large quantities of alcoholic products and reselling them.
According to the department, the diplomats were abusing their privileges, which are set out in the 1961 Vienna Convention, and it had no choice but to expel them from the country.
According to Mkaka, the government has taken the necessary measures to repatriate the expelled individuals within the 72-hour stipulated period beginning Monday.