Without stating reasons, government has recalled four Malawian diplomats at the South African Embassy, including the High Commissioner. They have been given seven days each to pack and return home, a development some have questioned as strange.
The recall of the four leaves the embassy with only two diplomatic staff since it was an office of six. The affected office is the Pretoria office, which is Malawi’s main foreign mission office overseeing some consulates.
According to communication we have seen, the affected are Malawian High Commissioner to South Africa Professor Chrissie Kaponda, Defence Attache’ Colonel Lawrence Mambo, first secretary (Protocol) Kondwani Kondwani and Daniel Salimu second secretary (Social Services).
The two who have survived the chop are deputy head of Mission Gloria Bamusi and Rosaline Mapundula, First Secretary (Political Affairs).
In the absence of the High Commissioner, Bamusi becomes the de facto acting head of the mission, going by the ranking.
“I write to inform you that government has directed that the exigencies of services require that you be recalled to Malawi with immediate effect. This letter, therefore, serves as notice of your recall. You are expected to return to Malawi within seven days.
“By copy of this letter, I wish to request the mission to provide quotations for your return passage to Malawi, as follows; air tickets for you and members of your family entitled to passage by government; the cost of shipping your baggage to your destination in Malawi,” reads, in part, a letter signed by acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Veronica Chidothe.
All the four letters are dated November 1 2018 under reference number: EA/1/3/55b.
In an interview, High Commissioner Kaponda confirmed being recalled alongside others, without stating what could have been the reason behind their recall.
She said she is also not sure whether she will be posted elsewhere within the Civil Service or not as this was the prerogative of the appointing authority.
“Malawi is currently not using a career diplomat approach for diplomatic services abroad. Rather, it is the prerogative of the appointing authority [the President] to either re-deploy recalled heads of missions in Malawi or re-assign them in other Malawi diplomatic missions abroad,” Kaponda responded.
But a long-serving diplomat in foreign mission, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while reasons for recall vary from case to case, the seven-day period given to the diplomats to leave foreign service was rather harsh and unfair considering that someone has to organise themselves after being away from Malawi for some time.
Another former diplomat, Brigadier Marcel Chirwa, who was once High Commissioner to Kenya, also indicated that the 90 days notice is what appears to be a standard practice.
“Normally, diplomats are given a 90-day notice. The host nation can deport a diplomat any time with a short notice depending on circumstances. However, the country can recall