Lungu Acquaints With Kabwe Barracks

THE decision by Government, through the Ministry of Defence, to embark on a tour and hold meetings with the men and women in uniforms has brought hope on their future as they continue to defend the country.

The question and answer sessions also provided an opportunity for government leaders to appreciate the challenges faced by officers of the defence.

From the questions posed to Defence Minister Edgar Lungu and his entourage it was clear that the officers are in need of answers in their day-to-day operations and on how to move the country forward.

Issues of promotions, differences in salaries scales, lack of modern equipments were prominent on the agenda.

Mr Lungu, who was on a three-day familiarisation tour of Zambia Army, Zambia Air force and Zambia National Service (ZNS) in Kabwe said the government had committed itself to improving the conditions of service for the officers.

Mr Lungu was quick to point out that the recent changes in salary scales was not aimed at punishing any officers but was aimed at ensuring their needs which should be taken care of in line with its vision.

He said government was working hard towards the improvement of the infrastructure for the defence forces and that his the ministry would continue to lobby for funding to ensure that is achieved.

The minister said construction of housing units for officers was an ongoing exercise and was interested to seeing to it that offices are well-accommodated which would work as a morale booster and contribute effectively to their day-to day-operations.

He assured that government appreciates the officers’ commitment to duty and would continue to improve their operations but urged them to remain dedicated to duty which is key to the national development.

The minister, however, said it was saddening that some defence offices were in a tendency of engaging in politics using their uniforms and that government was not against joining politics provided they first resign and handover their uniforms to join politicians in the political field.

Speaking when he addressed members of defence at Chindwin barracks in Kabwe, Mr Lungu said the tendency by some officers to use their uniform to fight those in government was not in order and challenged those involved in such acts to stop.

He aised the officers to remain non-partisan and aised them to wait for another time to join politics and appealed to them to channel their efforts towards serving the nation which they swore to serve and defend.

The minister said the officers would do well to use their profession to serve the nation and the country economically.

Earlier, he paid tribute to the officers for their dedication to duty which has resulted in upholding peace and feared that without it, the country would not attract investment.

He said as the country celebrates the 50 years celebration it was clear that peace was cardinal for any development and it should be upheld.

He assured of government’s support to improve the standards of living for the people and cautioned against rushing to the online media to complain over issues affecting them.

He said it was committed to supporting them in ensuring shortage of accommodation among other challenge faced and government will never abandon them.

As he addressed ZNS officers at their training school, the minister said his ministry has signed a contract with a foreign firm for the purchase of equipment to allow them expand their agricultural production and contribute to the country’s food basket.

Mr Lungu said government was interested in seeing to it that it expands its agricultural production but said that could only be achieved if the officers are well-equipped and that its aim is to see to it that ZNS produces more maize and contribute towards the reduction of mealie-meal prices in the country.

He said the government is in a hurry to ensure the service operates at 100 per cent unlike in the past where its agricultural input has dwindled.

He emphasised that ZNS was better placed to contribute to the food basket of the nation which was the reason the government was equipping them and that the new machinery should be in the country early December, this year.

He explained that apart from using the machinery for farming, it would also be used for land clearing and that such modernisation equipment would also be another way of creating jobs which the government has committed itself to.

“As a government, we are interested in equipping the ZNS because we realise that they are a major contributor to the country’s food basket and we are reviving their operations as this can be seen by the purchase of equipment’s for them, “he said.

He further appealed to the service to produce maize and engage the Zambia prisons Service to produce mealie-meal for the training school which would also reduce the transportation cost of purchase of mealie-meal from outside Kabwe.

He said it would not make sense to fail to make use of Kalonga milling plant currently producing quality mealie-meal and buy the produce from outside Kabwe and that the money used could be channeled to other areas.

During his meeting with ZAF officers he aised them to continue maintaining high level of discipline as there serve the country, adding that discipline was key if they had to move forward not only as a profession but the nation as a whole.

He called for hard work and that while the governemnt was working to improve the condition of service the officers should also do their part to develop the country.

“I want to emphasise that discipline is key if you have to move forward as an individual or the national as a whole, so I appeal to you to make good choice and contribute the country’s development, “he said.

And some officers talked to but to sought to speak on condition of anonymous welcomed the move by the minister to take time to tour and speak to officers as a means of creating dialogue.

The officers said some officers at times end up using other means of communication due to failure to be heard by those tasked with responsibilities.

It is clear that through such interactive meetings both government and the men and women in uniforms would be able to appreciate some of challenges faced and contribute positively to the country’s development.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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