BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi
ZAMBIA Air Force (ZAF) Commander Colin Barry says public speculation that high-ranking officials want to influence the recruitment of officers under the defence wing are unfounded.
And Lieutenant General Barry has commissioned North-Western Provincial Air Defence Centre in Solwezi with a call on personnel to remain disciplined, professional and accountable in the execution of their duties.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on North-Western Province Minister Robert Lihefu in Solwezi, Lt Gen Barry said the recruitment exercise is a huge undertaking and requires a lot of resources.
Government plans to recruit 5,000 officers for ZAF, Zambia Army and Zambia National Service (ZNS).
“It is not what is going around social media and the unfounded reports that are coming out that there is some sort of tug of war between certain high-ranking officials about the recruitment,” he said.
“This is something that we are dealing with but there is a lot of hype about it which is not necessary.”
Lt Gen Barry said over 140,000 applied under ZAF and they must be subjected to a vigorous vetting process before the final list of successful applicants can be released.
And Lt Gen Barry said the opening of Provincial Air Defence Centres in all the 10 provincial centres will enhance collaboration with other defence wings in ensuring that security is heightened, especially in regions with high economic activities like North-Western Province.
He thanked the provincial administration for the support being given to ZAF in all areas the defence wing is establishing its presence.
About 13 hectares of land was provided to ZAF in Solwezi for the establishment of the Provincial Air Defence Centre.
Lt Gen Barry said his command will ensure that officers are highly motivated by providing them with decent office accommodation.
He also said his command has plans to build ZAF bases in some provinces and provide adequate personnel and equipment for air operations.
Lt Gen Barry also advised ZAF civilian staff who are eligible to access the 20 percent of the pension from the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) to consult widely so that the money is invested to avoid becoming destitute after retirement.
“Please remember that this is your future and you have to plan for this money and invest it wisely. Don’t get excited,” he said.
And North-Western Province Minister Robert Lihefu said the presence of ZAF in the province is critical because the region shares vast porous borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola, a situation which requires airspace surveillance.
Mr Lihefu also commended ZAF officers for joining other defence and security wings to curb smuggling of mealie meal and maize, which has helped stabilise the price of the staple food.
BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi