President Edgar Lungu has warned military personnel against double-dealing by discreetly seeking jobs from the opposition in anticipation of change of Government while they are still serving. The President, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has urged the men and women in uniform to continue being loyal to the Government.
Mr Lungu said during the run-up to the 2016 general elections, some officers in the defence force took their curriculum vitaes (CVs) to the opposition.
“I am talking about practical cases of officers in the Army, Air Force and Zambia National Service who took papers to the opposition and said ‘remember us when you go to the kingdom’. That kingdom [the opposition in Government] will not come. Let us keep the faith and walk together,” he said.
He also advised those in the military to be mindful about how and who they interact with. “Let us be on the lookout for things which limit our career prospects such as social interactions which give perceptions of disloyalty. “I know you have friends in the political arena both left and right. Some are relatives, but be mindful how you engage them because they lead into you being perceived as not being loyal,” President Lungu said.
He was speaking at State House on Tuesday when he swore in Major General Benedict Kalinda as deputy Zambia Air Force (ZAF) commander. Maj Gen Kalinda replaces the then ZAF Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff Kapotwe Chintu, who died last month. President Lungu said he has unplugappointed Maj Gen Kalinda because of his loyalty to the State and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Mr Lungu advised personnel in the security wings not to allow themselves to be perceived to be undermining government. “I thought I should use this as an illustration that loyalty simply means being faithful to your superiors and helping them to provide leadership, not undermining them. Don’t undermine your commander [David Muma], don’t undermine the government. Don’t undermine me.
“And I know you have friends and relatives. Sometimes life becomes very difficult for you to meet them. Just come to me and say ‘sir that man is a politician but he is my relative and we have a bereavement which I need to attend.’ You are free to attend,” President Lungu said.
He said taking CVs to the opposition in the night is conniving against the State and when time for promotion for such officers comes, it is difficult to trust them.
Mr Lungu said loyalty is also about being loyal to superiors. “You have served 30 years [in the Air Force] and you are still making contribution to the Air Force. I am hopeful that you will not let me down. You took oath and said you will be loyal. Loyalty simply means being faithful to those above you and seeking guidance if you are in doubt,” he said.
And Maj Gen Kalinda says coming from a background of audits and inspections, he will ensure accountability in the defence wing. “It becomes costly if resources are not used prudently, so I will ensure internal and external checks,” he said.
Maj Gen Kalinda thanked President Lungu for showing confidence in him by appointing him as deputy Zambia Air Force commander