Fred M'membe

FRED M’membe says it is a disgrace for a commander-in-chief to fall during parade and while in full military attire.

On Sunday, the Zambia Defence Force Day commemoration ended abruptly in the middle of an investiture ceremony when ZNBC, the national broadcaster, panned away from President Edgar Lungu.

As Secretary to the Cabinet Simon Miti was reciting Deputy Air Force Commander and chief of staff Benedict Takondwa Kalinda’s credentials, the ZNBC camera crew took the fidgeting President Lungu out of the picture.

The last that was seen of Kalinda was him taking a leap towards President Lungu before he was quickly taken out of picture and replaced with a surprised Dr Miti who stopped the recital.

Soon after, Dr Miti issued a statement saying President Lungu felt dizzy. Later in the day, State House streamed a live video of President Lungu fishing from the State House ponds.

But Dr M’membe, the Socialist Party president, has since asked the Ministry of Defence to explain the next step.

“For the Commander-In-Chief, in full military dress, the disgrace is even worse as subordinates can use it as an excuse for being sloppy and generally undisciplined,” he said. “The least we expect from our Commander-In-Chief in his four-star uniform is to apologise to the men and women under his direct command for his unbecoming conduct. That is indiscipline of the highest order, disgraceful to the men and women in uniform, let alone to the nation. Can the Ministry of Defence tell the nation what next!”

Dr M’membe explained that it was a serious offence to fall on parade and in uniform.

He further said, “I know a bit of military tradition and culture”.

“And from this, I know that falling on parade in uniform is a serious offence in all defence forces.

In the Zambia Defence Act, this conduct is contrary to the good order of military discipline – contrary to section 72. And an offender can be charged or subjected to appear before a Board of Inquiry to determine his suitability to stay in the forces,” explained Dr M’membe. “For a very senior officer, he can even be court marshalled. Amongst things to be investigated are his activities in the last 24 hours prior to the parade, to establish whether the officer was medically fit, sober, lazy, strong, malingerer or any other cause. Depending on the findings, the officer could be discharged, demoted, lose seniority or even be cashiered and stripped of his rank.”


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