OUR political leaders should be alive to diplomatic etiquette whenever they attempt to comment on other countries’ politics in their quest to justify their local political standing.
It is unnecessary for our leaders to strain diplomatic relations with our neighbours for no apparent reason other than simply gain political mileage.
Our leaders should not play to the gallery over diplomacy because strained foreign relations are never easy to repair.
Even when strained relations are resolved, there is always a level of mistrust.
The case in point is former Vice President Guy Scott’s allegation that although Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe lost election eight years ago, he was still in power.
This is not a good statement coming from a leader who has held the position of Republican Vice President.
We expected Dr Scott to possess some level of diplomacy when discussing other countries’ sovereignty.
We wonder what motivated Dr Scott to speak for the people of Zimbabwe, for all we know our former Vice President is not a voter in that country.
We do not even expect Dr Scott ever becoming a voter in Zimbabwe for him to speak authoritatively about that country’s electoral system.
But our former Vice President is not new to diplomatic breaches.
Keen followers of Dr Scott remember how he raised eyebrows when he alleged that South Africans were backwards.
Although the derogatory statement was uttered by one man, Government had to play quiet diplomacy to sustain relations.
It is gratifying that this time around even before Zimbabwean protests could start flooding Government offices, Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba moved in quickly to disown Dr Scott.
Mr Kalaba was categorical that the former Vice President’s disparaging remarks were his own and had nothing to do with the Government.
We are happy that Zimbabwe has accepted this position and will not be taking any further diplomatic action.
The Zimbabwean mission has said since the statement by Dr Scott was coming from an ordinary person, they would not react but take it as freedom of expression.
But our leaders, especially those who have held senior positions and those who aspire to be in leadership, should know that it is against diplomatic etiquette to comment on foreign countries’ governance systems.
This is more so when as a foreigner one doubts the leadership credentials of a head of state of another country.
Our leaders should always observe the mutual understanding between neighbours and respect diplomatic relations.
We wonder what the situation would have been if South Africa and Zimbabwe never reflected on the importance of cordial relations with Zambia and decided to react negatively to Dr Scott’s remarks.