Analysis: NATHAN MULENGA
UNDER the able leadership of President Edgar Lungu, the Zambia National Service (ZNS) has in the last few years undergone massive transformation to make it not only relevant to the country but also more agile and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Zambian people.This is in line with Government’s desire to ensure that the Zambian economy is transformed to the benefit of all citizens.
The reference to the service as a multi-faceted military establishment is premised on the fact that the tasks ZNS undertakes touch almost all aspects of human endeavour.
It is, therefore, gratifying to note that Government has continued to support ZNS in all its activities that are wide-ranging through the timely provisioning of resources to enable the service to accomplish the many tasks it is assigned. This not withstanding the fact that the government resource basket has so many other competing demands.
We are indebted to President Lungu’s administration for the support the service has continued to receive.
I can attest to the fact that the service today boasts of having reached some degree of mechanisation in most of its farms across the country.
The procurement of high horse-power tractors together with their implements the procurement and installation of centre pivot irrigation systems have made most farm operations less labour-intensive and much more effective.
With such type of investment, it is only a matter of time before ZNS breaks the frontiers of commercial farming in the country and be able to significantly dictate the prices of agricultural products on the local market.
However, we are alive to the fact that for our products to be more competitive and have an impact on the market, we need to embark on value addition to our products.
This will in the end help bring down the prices of most food products ultimately cushioning the effects of poverty among our people by positively influencing market prices through the law of supply and demand.
ZNS has beefed-up its officers corps to enhance effective command and control in the pecking order of respective branches and directorates within which the cadets served.
The intake of cadets which was commissioned yesterday in Kafue by President Lungu, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not a conventional one as the initiative to train was basically meant to convert personnel from formerly Rural Roads Unit (RRU) and a few other civilians who were already on Government payroll and were serving in different portfolios of the service but possessed the necessary qualifications to join the officers corps. This conversion was necessary.
However, to add some impetus to the general operations of the service, there is still need to recruit additional personnel to bring the staffing levels in the various branches, directorates and units of the service to acceptable standards.
The increased manpower levels on the service establishment will not only make the service efficient in its undertaking of various operations but will also ensure that projects and tasks are timely accomplished.
To officer cadets, let me hasten to remind you that your journey in the service has just begun.
Having been in the service for sometime should not in any way make you feel that you will have any immunity against punishment for wrongdoing.
Do not, therefore, let your previous association with the service deceive you into adopting a laissez-faire approach towards the call of duty.
Now that you have converted to officers, you are expected to appreciate the need for integrity and honesty in all that you do.
To this end, new cadets will be expected to put in much more than you did when you served under the rural roads units and as civilian employees.
Further, the responsibilities corps offered themselves to demand nothing less than sacrifice and total commitment as they will be required at all times to put the country before self.
They should always remember that a lot of time and money have been spent to convert and equip them with military skills so that they can come out ready to meet the many challenges that our nation may be going through.
I, therefore, challenge the new corps to go out there and live and attend to national assignments to the best of their ability in line with the badge of honour that was bestowed on them yesterday.
We are, no doubt, very privileged to be officers in the service. Though privileged, there is nothing special about us rather we should be very thankful to the Zambian people for affording us this rare chance to serve them.
The Zambian people are the special ones for having allowed us to be officers without hard feelings but with sincere pride.
The only solemn request they have made is to give them results which will impact positively upon their lives.
They do not want to see us engaged in unnecessary arguments among ourselves over valueless issues, like which comes first between an egg and a chicken or idling in total denial that the earth is round but flat.
The author is Zambia National Service commandant.
Analysis: NATHAN MULENGA