Zambian President Rupiah Banda Wednesday retired and replaced the country’s top military commanders and their deputies, including army commander General Isaac Chisuzi, Air Force commander Lieutenant General Samuel Mapala and the National Service commandant Major General Raphael Chisheta.
Information Minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha said the changes are routine and had nothing to do with any fear from within.
“He (President Banda) did give his reasons in his statement, and he specifically cited a number of areas of complaints from the rank and file of the military. And he also did allude to the fact that the senior officers, the commanders and deputy commanders that were being retired they had done their duties in serving the country and it’s time for them to be utilized in other areas where they will continue to contribute. But it was necessary to create a situation where others can move up in promotion,” he said.
Shikapwasha said the changes in the rank and file of the military had nothing to do with whether or not there was any perceived threat from within.
“The entire situation remains calm and peaceful. The need for the president to create upward movement in the rank and file of the military as deemed necessary, and it was necessary for those that have been trained and are ready to take the positions in the military for them to move in,’” Shikapwasha said.
With Zambia’s presidential election slated for 2011, Shikapwasha denied the changes, especially those made in the police were intended to intimidate President Banda’s political opposition.
“I think Zambia has seen probably the most vocal criticisms. The President has been insulted by his opponents. The Post newspaper for the last 18 months or so criticizing and has run articles nearly every day criticizing and insulting him (the president). Whereas he has the authority to close the newspaper, he has never used that power. So he will not be able to use the police neither has he used them in the past,” Shikapwasha said.