Foreign diplomats have a fundamental duty to reach out to any politician regardless of their political affiliation as long as their intentions are not perceived to be biased, says Switzerland ambassador to Zambia Arthur Mattli.
He said in an interview on Thursday said that diplomats interact with politicians regardless of their political affiliation and that must not be construed as supporting them and side-lining another.
“Frankly speaking, I don’t know of any diplomat here in Lusaka who is favouring any political party, it is not the function of diplomats to align with any political party but that we can interact with politicians at any time as long as the intentions are not perceived to be biased, ” he said.
Mr Mattli said diplomats had to acquaint themselves with the happenings in the country so that they could have a well-informed opinion and have an understanding of the economic, social, political, cultural and religion obtaining in the country.
Mr Mattli said it was for that reason that Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba was once quoted in the media saying that diplomats can freely interact with politicians.
“I recall also the Minister of Foreign Affairs Zambia saluting diplomats for reaching out to the opposition but that is in no way expressing support for them (diplomats)”, he said.
Mr Mattli said that one could not expect diplomats not to reach out to people as diversity of opinions was healthy in a democracy but emphasised that it did not imply that they were in support of one party and against the other but that they were free to interact with any political player at any given time.
Recently, there have been debates on how far the diplomats could interact with political players in the country especially that this was an election year.
Not long ago, opposition party UPND president Hakainde Hichilema hosted about 15 western diplomats for lunch at his residence but that was not received well with some Patriotic Front (PF) members who proposed to march in solidarity to the embassies of the diplomats who did not participate at the lunch ceremony.