Zambian army chief fired in shakeup


A newly promoted Lieutenant General Paul Mihova has replaced Lieutenant General Wisdom Lopa as the new head of Zambia’s army after Lopa was sacked in the latest shakeup of Zambia’s government.

On Friday Lopa was fired and replaced by then- Brigadier General Mihova, who had been the defence attaché at Zambia’s South African embassy. Mihova now commands the 13 500 strong army.
“You have to look after the welfare of officers, accommodation and salaries should be improved. I want the army to be comfortable,” Sata said at Mihova’s swearing-in ceremony. According to AFP, many Zambian soldiers live in shantytowns because they cannot afford better housing.

Last week minister of defence Geoffrey Mwamba said he will continue to expand the housing projects for army officers and will address the issue of soldiers’ outstanding arrears. He added that the army was in the process of procuring troop transport vehicles so soldiers do not have to travel in open trucks.

Sata also appointed Brigadier General Toply Lubaya as Zambia’s deputy Army Commander and promoted him to Major General. Lubaya takes over from Major General Vincent Makunda, who was appointed together with Lopa by former President Rupiah Banda, who lost elections on September 20 after ruling for 20 years.

The other commanders in the Zambia Defence Force (Zambian Air Force and Zambian National Service) have remained in place. Similarly, the upper command structure in the Ministry of Defence (the minister, permanent secretary and secretariat) also remain unchanged.

The Zambian Defence Force is unique in that it does not employ a joint or unified command system of administration with a single commander of the force – instead, the commanders of the army and air force report independently and directly to the president through the Ministry of Defence, according to the Institute for Security Studies.

Since taking office two weeks ago, Sata has been restructuring the Zambian government and has fired the police chief, the head of the anti-corruption bureau, the chief of the public broadcaster and the central bank governor.

Nicknamed ‘King Cobra’ and the ‘man of action,’ Sata has promised to deliver reform within 90 days of taking office. One of his main aims is to improve tax collection in the mining industry. Last week Zambia banned metal exports for two days whilst sorting out irregularities and increasing transparency in Africa’s top copper producer.

Zambia’s mining industry aims to double annual copper output to 1.5 million tonnes by 2016, and Sata, who swept to power on the back of voters looking for a bigger share of mining profits, is likely try to wring more revenue from it.

Sata, 74, has wasted no time in removing all vestiges of the Banda’s administration. On Monday last week he said on Monday he would dissolve the boards of four state-owned companies — Zesco, National Pensions Scheme Authority, Zambia Revenue Authority and Bank of Zambia.