I want to declare my interest in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it is a ministry I hold very close to my heart. I studied international relations because, since my formative years, I have admired diplomats and other officials posted abroad to represent the interests of their countries.
It also has to do with the fact that our first four Heads of State, from Julius Nyerere to Jakaya Kikwete, had, at some point in their political careers, served in the Ministry in some capacity; hence, it was virtually impossible to learn about the history of those former presidents without coming across something regarding the foreign service.
Also, a word of caution: my opinions in this piece result from my keen observations rather than my professional expertise. I will leave it up to the professionals to judge what is realistic and wishful thinking. Those in service or who have served will better understand what works and what does not work in the real world.
What drove me to write and ponder on this was the swearing-in ceremony for new ambassadors held at the Chamwino State House on August 16, 2023, where President Samia Suluhu Hassan chastised some ambassadors representing Tanzania, describing some of them as a “burden” to the nation.
The Head of State emphasised the need for Tanzania to have a professional and well-trained diplomatic corps to promote and protect our national interests abroad.
Against this background, I will share some thoughts on the importance of cultivating a skilled diplomatic corps for Tanzania and their contribution to promoting and protecting the country’s interests on the international stage.
My analysis is informed by the fact that progress and prosperity are pursued beyond our borders for a developing nation such as Tanzania. In an era of unprecedented global connectivity, we navigate a complex web of international relationships that significantly impact our growth, security, and overall well-being.
Strong international partnerships
The establishment of strong international partnerships is therefore paramount. A professional diplomatic corps acts as a conduit for fostering relationships with both established and emerging powers.
Our diplomats can create bonds that pave the way for trade agreements, technological exchange, and collaborations in critical sectors like healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure development through adept negotiation, effective communication, and cultural understanding.
These partnerships drive economic growth, innovation, and the transfer of expertise that can catalyse domestic development.
Furthermore, skilful diplomats adeptly represent our nation in international organisations, voicing concerns, advocating for priorities, and leveraging collective efforts to address global challenges.
Diplomats shape regional agendas directly impacting the country’s socio-economic progress through active participation in forums like the African Union.
Economic diplomacy is not only a tool but a necessity. Diplomats proficient in economic matters are pivotal in attracting foreign investments, encouraging trade relations, and promoting a conducive business environment.
Diplomats bolster our nation’s economic stability and job creation efforts by forging strategic alliances and negotiating favourable trade terms.
A well-trained diplomatic corps also liaises between domestic industries and international markets. With a nuanced understanding of global trade dynamics, diplomats can advocate for fair market access, reduced tariffs, and removal of trade barriers, which are crucial for boosting exports and expanding the reach of local products.
Developing nations such as our own often grapple with regional conflicts that can hinder our progress. A professional diplomatic corps is critical in conflict mitigation and peacekeeping efforts.
Skilled diplomats engage in diplomatic negotiations, leveraging their understanding of local cultures and global conflict resolution strategies to bring peaceful resolutions. By fostering dialogue and reconciliation, diplomats contribute to stability, social cohesion, and sustainable development within the nation and across its borders.
Moreover, these diplomats actively engage with regional organisations and international bodies to secure support for peacekeeping initiatives. Their efforts help mitigate the spillover effects of conflicts, preserving regional security and preventing the escalation of violence that could impede the country’s growth trajectory.
Diplomats often operate in regions of potential tension or conflict. A disciplined diplomatic corps will have the training and temperament to navigate sensitive issues tactfully and with restraint.
Skilled diplomats can de-escalate tense situations through effective communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution, preventing conflicts from spiralling into violence that could have far-reaching security implications.
Our diplomats stationed abroad serve as eyes and ears for our country. They gather information about political, economic, and security developments, providing valuable insights to our government.
A well-disciplined diplomatic corps ensures that these reports are accurate, timely, and unbiased. This intelligence would help TISS anticipate potential threats, enabling proactive measures to protect the country’s interests.
Diplomacy is a means to build alliances and security partnerships with other nations. A disciplined diplomatic corps would effectively communicate our country’s security priorities, collaborate on defence strategies, and negotiate security agreements such as military cooperation, intelligence sharing, and joint exercises.
These alliances bolster a nation’s collective security.
In the context of a developing nation, cultural diplomacy becomes a potent tool for international engagement. A professional diplomatic corps adept at showcasing the nation’s rich cultural heritage can create positive perceptions abroad.
Through cultural exchanges, art exhibitions, and educational programs, diplomats promote cross-cultural understanding, fostering people-to-people connections that transcend geographical boundaries.
By projecting soft power through cultural diplomacy, a developing nation can build bridges of friendship and cooperation. This elevates our global image and opens doors for collaborations in tourism, education, and cultural industries, which can contribute significantly to economic growth.
For Tanzania, a professional and well-trained diplomatic corps is an indispensable asset on the global stage. These diplomats serve as tireless advocates for our nation’s interests, forging partnerships, resolving conflicts, and projecting a positive image.
As our nation strives to achieve socio-economic progress while addressing unique challenges, skilled diplomats foster a stable, interconnected world where mutual understanding and cooperation prevail.
In the dynamic landscape of international relations, the importance of nurturing a proficient diplomatic corps cannot be overstated, for it is through their efforts that our nation can navigate the complexities of the global arena and secure a brighter future for our citizens.
Thomas Joel Kibwana is an international relations and business development expert. He is available at email@example.com or on Twitter as @tkibwana. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo. Do you want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for further inquiries.