The Zambia National Service says it is uniquely placed in the defence force to employ civilians in an effort to deliver on its mandate.
A statement issued by the Service’s Public Relations Department reveals it’s common practice for the service to use its discretion to employ skilled civilians to assist in executing huge national tasks placed on its shoulders.
And this is done by remunerating the skilled civilians like officers, the Service has stated.
Below is the full statement:
The Zambia National Service (ZNS) acknowledges and notes the recent Social Media publication concerning its operations.
There is no doubt that every Zambian has an inescapable duty to the nation and posterity to check any possible excesses or misconduct by any custodian of public office.
The prayer and request of the Service is that watchdog individuals and institutions, in executing this national obligation, should, however, endeavour to balance their stories by getting views from the other side before proceeding to publish. For journalists, this is a duty upon which ethical journalism is founded.
News writers would save themselves from possible and unnecessary litigation or embarrassment if only they could at least do a bit of fact check before rushing to post their articles.
It must be appreciated that ZNS is uniquely placed – albeit being part of the Zambia Defense Force – requiring the institution to, time and again, engage highly skilled and professional individuals to assist in the effective execution of that distinct developmental national mandate.
And in order to attract the kind of skill set necessary for the huge national tasks placed on its shoulders, ZNS has from time to time used discretion and precedence to attract the most sought-after professional competences and commensurately or proportionately paying them regardless of them being civilians.
It must therefore be appreciated that it is based on this leeway and precedence that ZNS engaged the services of the civilians cited by some Social Media News blog.
It must be further stated that the Service has lately established a Trade and Services Branch as well as re-established the Builders’ Brigade. This noble move aimed at creating job opportunities for Zambians and enhancing ZNS’ contribution to national development, has given rise to the need for requisitely or highly qualified human resource. ZNS passionately shares the views of the Republican President and Commander in Chief that “Building a broken country requires a lot of ingenuity, work, work, and more hard work”.
Arising from this development, the Service was compelled to engage Research Specialists, Business Administrators (Managers), Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Civil, Water and Electrical engineers as well as Medical Doctors as civilians, to mention but a few.
Considering that military training programmes are costly and require meticulous planning and therefore not regularly conducted, it has become a well-established pratice that the Defense Force, and in particular ZNS, meets professional strength requirements or deficit by engaging civilian employees on conditions of Officers. All these should be Degree Holders or above in the core fields of the Service and may or may not be eligible for military training.
This can be traced to as far back as the 1980s. For instance, late Greg Lungu, an accomplished actor, was engaged as a civilian member of staff with a salary scale of a Lieutenant.
By the way, this precedence was not just commonplace during the regime of the immediate past government. Evidence will show that way before 2011, to be specific in October, 1992, the current Chief Executive Officer for Dairy Association of Zambia, Mr Jeremiah Kasaro, alongside the current Deputy ZNS Commander, Major General Reuben Mwewa, who were classmates at the University of Zambia and graduated as young Agronomists, were engaged as civilians at the salary scale of Lieutenants.
Others include Brigadier General Maxwell Zulu retired (Vet Doctor) and Agronomists Brigadier General Patrick Kalesu and Colonel Elvis Lengamali.
In succeeding years, especially between 2003 and 2005, the Service also had former Deputy Minister and Lawyer Keith Mukata and former Law Association of Zambia president Eddie Mwitwa engaged as civilians at the salary scale of lieutenants, with Counsel Mwitwa being sponsored and offered leave to complete his ZIALE studies on similar lines to what the Service is being accused of illegally doing in the case of Ms Gladys Mwanakampwe. It should also be made clear that Ms Mwanakampwe was employed for the value she promises to bring to the Service and not because of her perceived ties to Mr Milner Mwanakampwe and that being offered leave to complete her studies is nothing irregular as demonstrated in the case of the learned Counsel Mwitwa.
For ease of reference, please find below a list of the other Officers who have served the nation as civilians but offered conditions of officers as in the case of the reported Maina Soko Medical Centre Doctors drawing the salary of captains:
1. Brig Gen Ernest Chisoko (Medical Doctor) – 2004
2. Captain Henry Kupalelwa (Lawyer)
3. Lt col Stanslous Shabbuwa (Medical Doctor) – 2012
4. Lt col Christine Mutelo (Medical Doctor) – 2012
5. Lt col Makamo Mazuba (Medical Doctor) – 2012
6. Lt col Ruth Phiri (Medical Doctor) – 2012
7. Captain Paul Chilwesa (Medical Doctor) – 2012
8. Lt col Dominic Kampolo (Medical Doctor) – 2015
Please note that the trend includes the Seventeen (17) Medical Doctors commissioned in December, 2021; currently deployed in various medical facilities countrywide.
It should be reiterated that ZNS abhors corruption and its relentless fight is currently and increasingly being embedded in the DNA of the Establishment. The manner the Service recently handled the President’s directive to clamp down the illegal harvest and export of Mukula and how it was speedily executed was comparably more professionally undertaken than before. It should therefore not be glossed over that through that, ZNS has adopted a working mantra informed by Proverbs 22:1 which assets that a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
It is therefore unfortunate that the Honourable Minister of Information and Media, Ms Chushi Kasanda, has been needlessly drawn into the issue by linking her to Ruth Jangulo, the newly engaged Research Specialist. It must be put on record that there is no blood connection between the Honourable Minister and the young Researcher and that similarity in name is purely coincidental.
It must further be pointed out that the propensity by bloggers to publish unverified or unsubstantiated information about ZNS is regrettable. The blatant falsehoods contained in the Kansenseli Gold Mine report is yet another futile attempt by detractors to make outlandish claims about ZNS in order to derail the Service from delivering on its core mandate.
The Service will therefore remain resolute and not allow those who may wish to champion a crusade of peddling falsehoods to detract it from realizing most of its ambitious and highly beneficial developmental programmes.
Suffice to say that this is the last time the Service is responding to unresearched write-ups via a written response. Going forward, the Service reserves the right to have recourse to legal redress in an event that unwarranted and unrestrained disparaging, libelous and defamatory reports on any of its members of staff continue.
It must be known that ZNS is determined to remain resolute in towing the line of the Republican President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, of promoting Zero Tolerance to corruption and an appeal is therefore made to all well-meaning Zambians to just seek ways of forging partnerships with or rendering support to the Service in this noble fight.
Meanwhile, the Institution stands ready to collaborate with watchdog institutions in helping the system call out and, where necessary, weed out any corrupt elements within the rank and file. Doors shall remain open to journalists and other progressive citizens for possible engagement.
On the other hand, ZNS would like to assure all the young Zambians who applied for recruitment that the process is above board and that the Service will not permit anyone to by-pass or circumvent the process.
Assurance is further given that those who will not make the final list should not despair as more job opportunities will come their way as the economy has started showing encouraging signs of recovery and growth.
The Public Relations Department