The landlocked southern African nation of Zambia sent a new envoy to Washington last fall who has never before served as an ambassador. President Michael Sata nominated Palan Mulonda as ambassador to the U.S. in May 2012, succeeding Sheila Siwela, who had served since June 2010. Although the move prompted criticism from opposition leaders for nepotism, as Mulonda is related to Sata through marriage, Mulonda accepted the appointment and presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013. Mulanda’s sister, Encyla Sinjela, is already Zambian ambassador to Switzerland.
Born circa 1972, Mulonda earned an undergraduate law degree (LLB) and a post-graduate certificate in Legislative Drafting at the University of Zambia in 1995 and a Masters degree in International Law (LLM) at Lund University in Sweden.
A member of the bar of the High Court of Zambia, Mulonda practiced law as a partner at the firm of Palan & George Advocates, specializing in conveyancing and legal drafting, commercial transactions, probate and succession, human rights, and Zambian constitutional law.
Mulonda has worked for the Zambian Ministry of Justice and served as executive director of the Institute of Human Rights, Intellectual Property and Development Trust (HURID), a private human rights organization in Zambia. He served on the Zambian Human Rights Commission, starting as vice-chairman in November 2007. He taught law at the University of Zambia, and served as director of the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education from December 2009 to December 2012.