Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka on Wednesday urged newly-appointed diplomats to promote the country to investors and play a leadership role in their respective missions.
He said this in Lilongwe when he opened a five-day orientation programme for 40 diplomats and secretaries who will represent Malawi in various countries.
Said Mkaka: “The objective of this orientation is to provide you with functional information to prepare you for your career as diplomats and representatives of the Malawi Government abroad.”
He emphasised that Malawi will take over the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in August this year; hence, diplomats will be expected to play a leadership role among Sadc missions.
“The coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area is also likely to impact your work in the medium to long-term,” said Mkaka.
However, the training left out the newly-appointed Ambassadors/ High Commissioners-designates, who officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said are scheduled to attend a different orientation programme later in the month.
Mkaka said the ministry has brought in a number of professionals, including Malawi Defence Force Commander General Vincent Nundwe and National Planning Commission director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali and some former Malawi diplomats, who will make different presentations, including drilling the diplomat-designates on government policies related to diplomatic service.
He said presentations are aimed at providing the officials with information on the posting process, conditions of service in the Malawi Foreign Service, protocol and etiquette issues, procedures and priorities, and the structure of the ministry, among others.
The minister has since called on the diplomats to establish meaningful relationship for the benefit of the country.
“Diplomacy entails building relationships and platforms for cooperation. It involves a lot of negotiations. You will be expected to forge relationships directly with officials in the host State, between them and officials in Malawi.
“You will, be expected to be strategic in your allocation of time and resources so that you are able to achieve maximum impact. Take time to interact with civil society organisations, the private sector and academia in the host countries, among others,” said Mkaka.
The ministry, on Wednesday did not make public the list of the envoys and countries they are going to.
But Billy Mayaya, who is heading to Malawi’s mission in Brussels, Belgium, as counsellor, said the training is important for new entrants to the foreign service.
“It orients one to the nature and scope of diplomacy and international relations. The key takeaway is that we have in the service the interests of Malawi, particularly with the aim of promoting economic diplomacy at bilateral and multilateral levels,” he stated.
Mayaya, who has served more than 20 years in the civil society movement, added that he does not take the opportunity to represent Malawi in Brussels for granted.
“It’s a privilege to do duty for Malawi in a different capacity. It is an honour to serve in another capacity in the diplomatic service,” he said.
Last month President Lazarus Chakwera appointed several individuals to take diplomatic posts abroad, including South Africa where some diplomats were expelled after an investigation revealed they had been buying duty-free alcohol and then reselling it.