There are reports reaching the Zambian Watchdog that Edgar Lungu has put the Zambia National Defence Forces on a war footing as all Battalions of the Zambian Army and units of the Zambian Airforce have began dress rehearsals for the State of Emergency.
Earlier last week our sources indicated that senior Army officers are unhappy at Lungu’s blank cheque authority granted to the Zambian Police.
The soldiers view the move as usurping the elite unique role the Army has had as the custodians of military traditions in Zambia.
Lungu has armed the Police to an extent where the Armed forces have been relegated to playing second fiddle, a situation the soldiers seem to be now resenting.
The Army, Airforce and the Zambia National Service have usually been kept busy in UN and AU peace keeping missions abroad, creating a vacuum Lungu is apparently trying to fill with Police repressive activities against civilian populations.
These missions have ironically armed them with knowledge of how repressive, despotic and authoritarian African leaders have abused their own people in horrific civil wars around the continent.
The Zambia Armed Forces have generally been allies of ordinary citizens since independence from British colonial rule in 1964 and have usually resented politicians using them against Zambians for political purposes.
Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda who maintained the State of Emergency during most of his long reign had several rebellious coups and skirmishes by the Army, after he unleashed them against civilians. The most serious one being a mutiny by Captain Chris Mwamba Luchembe whose coup went unchallenged for almost 24 hours.
Kaunda had unleashed the Armed forces on the streets after food riots that began on the Zambian copperbelt, and quickly spread to most urban centres of the Nation.
Luchembe’s coup was crushed by loyalist troops but gave Kaunda such a scare that he immediately ordered for release of all political prisoners, and agreed for a hastily arranged dialogue with all his many political opponents, a move that was initiated by the Church.
Kaunda’s predecessor Frederick Chiluba similarly declared a state of emergency that also ended up in a military coup that was thwarted by loyalist troops from his tribe. The mutiny is viewed by many as having helped in changing Chiluba’s mind over his attempt to run for a third term.
If Lungu decides to bring the Armed forces to the streets by declaring the State of emergency, the soldiers will have the rare opportunity to experience first hand the problems the people are undergoing and may get the necessary niche and inspiration to do something about it, on behalf of the people. It is said history repeats itself a point pundits and historians disagree on. Many suggest that it’s the people who repeat history. Zambians will have to wait and see.