CIVIL servants should not make Government lie on international matters because blatant lies reduce the credibility of the nation’s political leadership.
What happened to Yosi Miti in Tanzania cannot be defended and any attempt to do must be dismissed with the indignation it deserves because the action defies logic and human empathy. There is absolutely no excuse for a Zambian Mission abroad to order the detention of a citizen in airport cells.
It is understandable that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attempting to defend the High Commission staff that callously caused the detention of a Zambian citizen at the Nyerere Airport for four days.
The statement issued by officials at the Ministry justifying the detention does not make sense. That is why we hope that the Minister will take clear and decisive action to stop impunity and show that this Government respects the rights of individuals.
More importantly, from all accounts Miti is not an ordinary civil servant. He has worked at State House before and worked with President Michael Sata and other founders of the Patriotic Front.
It is completely wrong to lay the blame on Tanzanian authorities. This attempt will only serve to damage the wonderful and cordial relations these two countries have enjoyed for many many years.
We spoke to immigration authorities in Tanzania who made it very clear that they were holding Miti on account of a letter written by the Zambian High Commission in that country ordering them not to allow Miti into the country.
The Tanzania authorities, who equally felt outraged, went to the trouble of trying to broker a peaceful settlement of the hiatus, but our mission was adamant and refused to allow Miti enter the country and visit his family which included his 72 year old ailing mother.
The attempt to justify impunity by suggesting a fault on Miti’s passport is an insult to logic, good governance and common sense.
Miti holds a valid Zambian passport which allows him to enter Tanzania without a visa. It is for this reason that the Tanzanian authorities were prepared to allow him into the country. No Zambian, Diplomat or not needs a visa to enter Tanzania. The reverse is equally true.
The fact that Miti is no longer a member of the Diplomatic staff in Tanzania does not take away his right as a Zambian citizen to travel to Tanzania to see his family, vacation or any other reason. What he cannot do is enter the country to work as a diplomat.
Instead of proffering wrong advice to the Minister, the officials must counsel for an apology to be tendered to the President and the people of Zambia for the despicable manner Miti was treated, it must be made very clear that the action of the High Commission was wrong, undiplomatic, inhuman and above all against diplomatic order. There is no justification whatever for a Zambian Mission to give such absurd instructions to a host country.
Allowing such conduct to continue unpunished will be condoning impunity which will cost the country dearly.
Government positions are not personal to holder to be abused in settling personal differences. Ample and elaborate procedures exist in Government order books prescribing appropriate action for any infringement of regulations or procedures.
For the sake of good order we expect that the Ministry will immediately take appropriate action commensurate with the seriousness of the breach that has threatened our very good relations with Tanzania.