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Monday, October 2, 2023

Reputation matters


Of recent, Gambians who worked at our embassy in Washington DC, the United States of America have been expelled and given a deadline to leave that country for allegedly being involved in some visa fraud and other malpractices. It could also be recalled that some other Gambians in other embassies had been allegedly involved in some fraudulent activities in recent years. These incidents are certainly not good for the image of the country.

It is well-known that reputation is extremely important, especially in this very competitive world. The citizens of a country anywhere in the world serve as unofficial ambassadors of that country. This means that whatever they do, the country is generally judged according to their actions. For instance, if a Gambian living in the UK does anything bad, that action in some measure tarnishes the image of the country.

Imagine then the effect of fraudulent behavior of the people specially chosen by the government to represent the country in a foreign land. Does it not follow that this will be even more damaging to the reputation of the country? It is rather unfortunate that people chosen by our government are involved in actions which warranted their expulsion from those countries.

The Gambia being a third world developing country, certainly needs its diplomatic services to be such that they portray the country in an excellent light so as to attract investment and other benefits from other countries particularly richer ones which we often refer to as traditional donors. A dent in our image is therefore like a dent in our coffers as people will think twice before investing their time and resources in a country known for dubious practices.

Every country in the world needs to sell its image so as to gain respect and honour among the comity of nations so that when they speak the world will listen. This means therefore that it is not just anyone that we can send to our foreign missions to represent us. The people who represent the country need to be people of integrity and who are highly knowledgeable in diplomacy and international relations.

Unfortunately, it seems that the overriding qualification for appointment in our foreign service is loyalty to the government – which is not bad in itself as every government wishes to portray its beliefs and policies – but in addition to being loyal to a government, one needs to have the prerequisite knowledge and have integrity and be ready to sacrifice for the nation. 

Do we really vet the people that we send to our foreign services? If we do, then we need to be stricter in these. But if we don’t vet them, then why on earth don’t we? We all remember the diplomatic passport saga and the damage it did to the image of the country. If we now have to grapple with a number of our diplomats being expelled from a country like the United States of America, one can only imagine what harm that can do to our reputation.

It is important to put accountability measures in place to ensure that something like this does not happen again. Those people who have been expelled have to be prosecuted so as to set an example so that others will learn from it and not do a similar thing when they are posted outside.

Reputation matters!

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