|October 26, 2011
Sata continues with sweeping changes
Zambia President Michael Sata has ordered the sacking of 13 Brigadier Generals and 15 Colonels his predecessor Rupiah Banda promoted in 2010 for allegedly occupying office illegally. Since coming to power last month, President Sata has fired and replaced the commanders and deputy commanders of the Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force, Zambia Police Service, Zambia National Services and heads of the Drug Enforcement Commission. He also fired the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, state-owned media heads and about half of Zambian Ambassadors and High Commissioners, parastatal chiefs and the central bank governor, among many other casualties. Speaking when he swore in 10 provincial heads of the Zambia Police at State House in the capital Lusaka, President Sata queried Mr Banda's appointment of the top military officials.
"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 and he issued a statutory instrument number 38," said President Sata, 74. The President took the head of the Zambia public service - Secretary to the Cabinet, Joshua Kanganja - to task over the contracts Mr Banda issued to the top military personnel. "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," President Sata said. The President added: "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." You are cheating the people in uniform, President Sata told Dr Kanganja. The head of state said military personnel were not supposed to survive depending on who was President. Let the law protect them, he said. "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," said President Sata, the Commander-in-Chief of the Zambia armed forces.
"Do not mislead me", the no-nonsense Sata warned his officials. President Sata said some police officers had no badges for their ranks due to lack of funds. „Some of these police officers, since they left training school, they have never received their annual uniforms because in the police, every year you are supposed to receive a kit," said President Sata, a one-time policeman, bragging: "I was properly trained than some of you".
Mr Sata was sworn in as President on September 23, after trouncing incumbent Rupiah Banda, and as Zambia turned 47 years old on October 24, he had clocked one month in State House.
As the Daily Nation writes, Sata seems to be under pressure to live up to his campaign promises to deliver tangible developments within his first 90 days. Mr Sata has accused his predecessor of having ties to a gold sale scam, which the latter dismissed, and blocked payment to a 'bogus' firm at Zambia/Tanzania border customs office. He launched a probe into the Banda Government's sale of privately-owned Finance Bank for $5.4 million to South Africa's FirstRand. But, before the start of the investigations, he turned around and instantaneously reversed the transaction. To 'save' public funds, he is reported to have trimmed his motorcade convoy compared to Banda's.
Brought to power by a youth-vote, Mr Sata's proposal for retirement age adjustment from 55 to 65 years and increase in minimum wage backfired., a move that has been received with mixed feelings. Besides, he has also renamed three key international airports after founding president Kenneth Kaunda, two other freedom fighters and named a Chinese-built multi-million dollar 40,000-seater-capacity football stadium after late president Levy Mwanawasa.
(Daily Nation/Times of Zambia)