NDANGWA MWITTAH, Lusaka
WHAT could have happened if the Zambia Army mutineers led by Captain Steven Lungu, alias Captain Solo, had gotten their way with Army Commander General Nobby Simbeye on October 28, 1997? No-one knows precisely. But what is clear is that democracy survived that day. Having raided his home, the mutineers wanted to take Gen Simbeye to the Mass Media Complex to announce on radio the military take-over of state powers. Fortunately, Gen Simbeye was able to escape over a wall fence and the coup was eventually foiled. For that simple act, he deserves to be called a hero. Little wonder that then President Frederick Chiluba promoted him to full General even though he never commanded the army in that capacity as he was retired upon promotion and sent into Foreign Service. But to restrict Gen Simbeye’s contribution to the failed 1997 coup would be a great disservice – he did far more than that. After enlisting in Zambia Army as an officer cadet, he was sent to Mons Military Academy in Aldershot, United Kingdom, for military training. This culminated in his commissioning as a second lieutenant on August 4, 1967. It was the start of an adventurous military career. He underwent a number of trainings. After that, his greatest desire for Zambia Army was to have more army officers get on-job training, depending on various training needs. And this he was able to achieve during his time as Zambia Army Commander from 1991 to 1997.
“With limited resources, he mooted the idea of Zambia having its own Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC),” the Zambia Army said in a statement following his death last Saturday. “And in 1995, the Kamwala DSCSC was established with the help of expatriates from India and other cooperating partners.” The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the Kamwala DSCSC, with 100 percent local directing staff, is a centre of excellence in the region. Gen Simbeye also spearheaded the participation of Zambia Army officers in United Nations peace-keeping missions. “He sent Lieutenant General Solomon Mumbi who was his Brigadier General Staff (BGGS) to New York to meet Kofi Annan who was Chief of Operations at United Nations Headquarters to negotiate the possibility of Zambia taking part in United Nations’ peacekeeping operations,” the Zambia Army said. “The request was accepted and a team of inspectors from New York came into Zambia to inspect equipment and capabilities. “Today, world leaders and the United Nations in particular have hailed Zambia Army’s professionalism and bravery in executing the United Nations’ mandate of protecting the civilians in areas where the army is deployed.” Lt Gen Mumbi, who took over CLICK TO READ MORE
General Simbeye’s legacy lives on
NDANGWA MWITTAH, Lusaka