Zambia’s Sata sacks 13 generals and 15 colonels as military shakeup continues


Zambia’s recently elected president Michael Sata has ordered the sacking of 13 brigadiers general and 15 colonels promoted by his predecessor Rupiah Banda last year as his shakeup of the armed forces continues.

According to Zambia’s The Daily Nation, Sata has fired and replaced the commanders and deputy commanders of the Zambia Army, Air Force, Police Service, National Services and Drug Enforcement Commission. Also sacked are 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.

Sata said he had fired the latest batch of generals and colonels due to “illegal contracts” handed out under Banda’s regime. “If you go to the Ministry of Defence, on 13th May, my brother wrote an illegal letter giving contracts to 13 Brigadier Generals and about 14 or 15 Colonels,” Sata said.

Joshua Kanganja, head of the Zambia public service and Secretary to the Cabinet was chastised for his role in the illegal contracts. “I want to talk to you, Mr Kanganja, be brave, say ‘no’ don’t just say ‘yes’ when I say anything because you drafted this statutory instrument for Rupiah Banda when you knew very well it was illegal,” Sata said.
“What are you afraid of? Why allow 13 brigadier generals and 16 colonels occupy offices illegally? You are giving them money which should have gone to the police…I am directing you and the Minister of Defence that all these people should leave office now but pay them up to the end of December because they are in offices illegally.”

After replacing Lieutenant General Wisdom Lopa with Lieutenant General Paul Mihova (formerly Brigadier General and defence attaché at Zambia’s South African embassy) as the new head of Zambia’s army last month, Sata is encouraging the improvement of the military.
“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.

Defence minister 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.

Half of Zambian Ambassadors and High Commissioners have also been laid off by Sata, who recently dissolved the Zambian Wildlife Authority board and pardoned 600 prisoners, mostly villagers jailed for minor wildlife-related offences. “When I dissolved the Zambia Wildlife Authority board last week, I said this institution and the [previous] MMD government seemed to have respected animals more than human beings. As a result, a lot of our poor people were imprisoned over minor wildlife-related offences,” Sata said.