AnalysisDr Mavaza Corner

Firing army generals: Very dangerous precedent set in Zambia

By Dr Masimba Mavaza

The Zambian new president has quickly given in to the politics of revenge which will stand to destroy democracy in the region, and makes army chiefs to dig in and put their weight where their security will be guaranteed.

When you have good leaders who are aware of the risks, you see effective prevention of heat injuries.

Then you get a year where there’s a changeover and people just don’t understand how dangerous it is there, and you’ll get a fatality. It’s a constant battle to keep leadership really understanding how dangerous it is.

The behaviour by the new Zambian president is immature and exposed him and his party as political avengers on a mission.

This comes as Zambia’s new President Hakainde Hichilema replaced the country’s top military commanders and the head of the police – and signalled a focus on the security forces being more accountable to the citizens.

The president announced new commanders of the Zambian army, the air force and the national service and their deputies, as well as a new inspector general of police.

All regional police commissioners were relieved of their duties but their replacements have not been named yet living the vacuum in these regions which is dangerous and precedent Africa will soon frown at.

Hichilema named Army Deputy Commander Dennis Alibuzwi as the new Army Commander and consequently promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant General with immediate effect.
Southern Africa and Africa at large should be concerned with growing partisanship in the military that is threatening our military’s fundamental norm of non-partisanship.

The military has long held on to non-partisanship to prevent politics from dividing our troops and separating us from society. But this supremely important norm appears to have been changed for the worse.

The actions of the new Zambian leader will bring a growing partisanship” with military members claiming party affiliation.  In everyone’s eyes the army and police they were “independent and non-partisan” or “unaffiliated” with a party. We should not forget that this “nonpartisan” force had distinct ideological views, even if a majority of its officers did not sign-up as members of a political party.

The army is supposed to typically make their own judgments, and won’t reflexively align themselves with whatever some political party platform or an individual influencer might happen to advocate.

The military is hardly as homogenous in its views as many narratives would have you believe.

The other fear is that the Zambian leader will be going after the judges in few weeks. He is proving to be a celebration which came too early. The world waits anxiously for the next move of HH.

Does he know that Judges are only one example of professional who may hold distinctly partisan views, but who nevertheless regularly set them aside and conduct themselves impartially in the courtroom and in their formal opinions.

Military professionals in particular are routinely called upon to compartmentalize their personal views when performing their official duties so as to insulate themselves from inappropriate decision-making.

We will again realise very soon that the contest for control of Zambian’s parliament has been just as bitter and divisive as the recent acrimonious presidential race that resulted in a landslide victory for political novice HAKiende Hachilema. Ominously, beneath the surface, the parliamentary battle has been as much about revenge as about transformation.

This preoccupation with settling scores and seeking to influence the pace and direction of change is an inevitable feature of the major reconfiguration of political forces underway in Zambia and this does not give a good example in African young democracy.

But there is a danger that if vengeance is allowed to fester, the need for unity and cooperation in the name of the general goodwill will be obscured.

The contest for control of Ukraine’s parliament has been just as bitter and divisive as the recent acrimonious presidential race that resulted in a landslide victory for political novice Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Ominously, beneath the surface, the parliamentary battle has been as much about revenge as about transformation.

This preoccupation with settling scores and seeking to influence the pace and direction of change is an inevitable feature of the major reconfiguration of political forces underway. But there is a danger that if vengeance is allowed to fester, the need for unity and cooperation in the name of the general goodwill be obscured.

Hachilema if not careful will be turning his party to be regarded as the primary agents of revenge, determined to reverse both Zambia’s alignment with democracy and justice.
“Do the generals have too much power?”

Too often, when we talk about the relationship between civilians and their military, we quickly gravitate upward, toward presidents, prime ministers, generals and admirals. Instead, I think we ought to consider that “downstairs” perspective for a moment, because there’s a lot going on, and it’s not all good.

I believe we should be concerned with growing partisanship in the African military that is threatening our military’s fundamental norm of non-partisanship.

The military shake up by Hachilema has yet again raised the issue of whether democracy has a future in Africa. The win by HH in Zambia and the alliance that came to power through elections thereafter, gave rise to hopes that Africa had taken fledgling steps towards the establishment of a democratic order, even though the military drove the governments from the back seat.

However, the military tempering showed the frailty of Zambia’s experiment with democracy. Democracy has been unable to take roots in most African states due to weak political institutions and because of its deeply feudal structure.

The military leadership in the post Lungu period not only allowed elections to be held but also kept a low profile in the day to day functioning of the elected governments. The military was conscious of the fact that Zambia’s image will be razed to the ground by long spells of dictatorship, particularly when in neighbouring countries democracy was making rapid strides.

The military chose to take the back seat, although it could not afford to sacrifice its vital interests by not keeping a keen eye on the way the country was being run.

The reaction of many people to Zambia’s shocking behaviour sounds alarmist but It’s not meant to be. We have the chance to address this now, while it is still a problem that relatively few Africans worry about.

It’s time for the military to act as the profession that it is and start purging this corrosive partisanship. Given the stakes, this is a mission we must not fail. We must not be seen to be punishing the army each time a new government is power.

The new leaders must focus on economy and livelihood of its people. The vengeful eye against army is a mistake and a stupid one.
Additionally, military leaders especially must mentally sequester their personal feelings, such as their affection for their troops if that affection could compromise the paramount responsibility to the security of the nation as a whole.

Tempering with the army is the most stupid thing to do.

If leaders are not able to handle their vengeful thoughts and the unavoidable sacrifice of their ego in order to protect the country, the best realize it’s time to leave politics.

The Zambian president must build a military that has, despite all sorts of pressures through administrations of both parties, remained dutifully adherent to the Constitution.

There must be no issue today with civil-military relations.

What the president of Zambia fails to understand is that it is almost impossible for officers to be apolitical as they might aspire, but this doesn’t mean that they are nefariously attempting to inject partisan ideology into the army. Army veterans would be withholding from our nation a distinct set of political values, beliefs, and attitudes that should remain a part of our national debate.”

With Hachilema now established in the State House there is feared victimisation of his predecessor’s rabid and well-armed supporters, it is tempting to imagine that the age of revenge politics is at its close but being practiced at this tome in Zambia.

But those politics remain, tethered as they are to a vengeful form of neoliberalism that Hachilema helped foster throughout his political career. In their now-subtler form, they threaten to germinate in the years of his administration, and bloom again afterward.

Hakainde Hichilema has acted in a rushed manner usually seen in the scorned lovers.
The revenge politics is like political idiocy.
Once in power popularists never disappoints with their eloquent nonsense.

The problem of revenge politics makes other leaders to refuse to give power and the army will support them. We have seen the idiocy pontificated as political wisdom from a popurlarist.

It is dangerous for Africa to have an irresponsible and immature opposition leaders who ascend to power armed with a heavy spirit of revenge.

We expected Zambia to assume soberness and sanity and fly the democratic flag very high.

“Irrational” is a word to describe a man crowned with his party’s nomination because of his ideological banality, his factional neutrality, and his stereotypically generic “presidential” appearance and demeanor. In fact, this leader is far from innocent: his actions have ever lasting effects on the future relationship between the force and the politics.

Hachilema is very eager to quickly seduce those who were eager to see the end of Edgar Lungu’s vicious and bully politics. But it served to mask the role both Hakainde Hachilema and his party have played in creating the vengeful neoliberal conditions of poverty, alienation, and moral decline that will pave the way for none democratic barbaric precedence.

The politics of vengefulness that HH tapped and distilled into such an intoxicating moonshine will flow in the veins of Africa and its vindictive form of capitalism.

Zambia if not careful is telling all those who cheered them on that if you lose you will be victimised. As Africa look in awe those in the armies of Morden democracies have started to dig in if a mew leader is to come into office.

Thanks to the impatient Hachilema the fate of many will now be decide by the army and army alone. Who on earth will want to lose how job by allowing a leader into office.
Tempering with the army is a dangerous game which Hachilema has kicked off.
Did they celebrate to early too soon.

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk

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