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The fourth edition of the Diplomat of the Year Awards set for March 13 in Harare will run under the theme “Embracing trade promotion and economic diplomacy”.

Announcing the theme, Diplomat of the Year Awards chairperson Mrs Anorah Sibanda said “Globalisation has increased the importance of economic inter-dependency among nations and has also unveiled a lot of opportunities in world trade.”

“Zimbabwe and Africa at large should take aantage of these opportunities to promote trade, attract investment, and stimulate economic growth, hence the theme, ‘Embracing trade promotion and economic diplomacy’.

“The last three editions ran without themes but this year we decided to be different. It is our belief that beside honouring outstanding envoys, the awards present a unique opportunity for engagement and aocacy outside embassy walls.

“We need to capitalise on such opportunities to promote trade and economic development.

“This is a rare event where diplomats, regardless of their divergent political views, interests and foreign policies, celebrate in unison. It is also a networking platform where the diplomatic community meets captains of industry to exchange ideas and ideals,” said Mrs Sibanda. The theme is expected to run until the next awards.

“In between we will continue to promote and aocate for the embracing of trade promotion and economic diplomacy. As Julie Bishop said, if the goal of traditional diplomacy is peace, then the goal of economic diplomacy is prosperity”, she said.

The Diplomat of the Year Awards were established in 2011 with the inaugural edition held in January 2012. The awards’ prime objective is to celebrate the contribution of diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe in the development of the country.

The late Spanish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Pillar Feragut, won the inaugural Diplomat of the Year Award. Her runners-up were the former Chinese and Kuwait ambassadors to Zimbabwe, Ambassadors Xin Shunkang and Abdullah Jumaa Al-Sharhan, respectively.

In 2013 the award was scooped by the former EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia.

His runners-up were Ambassadors Yeetendra Kumar Tripathi of India and Ndiyoi Mutiti of Zambia. Mrs Sibanda said they have considered feedback from stakeholders and have remodelled the selection criteria.

“We have improved the selection criteria by setting up a nomination committee made up of people from the media, civic society and UN agencies.

“Unlike the previous editions where winners were selected based on popular vote from submissions by embassies, this year the nomination committee went through the submissions and selected the winners,” she said.

Source : The Herald