Democratic Control and Civil Military Relations in Zambia

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This article seeks to analyse Zambia's adoption of Democratic Control as prescribed by Huntington (1957). It looks into the Professionalism of the defence forces, a history of their compliance with Civil- Democratic Control and their ability to
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  Benchmarking best practices ofDemocratic Control and CivilMilitary Relations in Zambia; a briefoverview. StephenNyoni  Tableof ontents Introduction 2Institutionalising Democratic Control 2Professional Troops 3Trying Times 3Theory in Practice 4Conclusion 4References 5  Introduction The concept of Democratic Control culminates from the need for a clear distinctionbetween the politics and the military of a democratic state. Zambia, being ademocracy, is expected to adhere to these principles in the way it manages itssecurity policy as well as its governance systems. It is important to inquire the waysin which Zambia has upheld this principle and the areas in which improvement isvital. Institutionalising emocratic ontrol Institutionalisation of democratic control has been made possible in Zambia throughthe establishment of defence structures through the peoples will expressed in theconstitution. The Constitution demonstrates how exactly the defence forces must beconstituted, must function, and indeed, how they must be controlled - particularly bythe President of the Republic. The Defence Act stipulates that “The Defence Forceshall be charged with the defence of Zambia and with such other duties as may fromtime to time be determined by the President.” (Government of the Republic ofZambia, n.d.). In the fulfilment of Objective Civilian Control, the political elements inthe state can only participate in issues of the defence forces through a parliamentaryportfolio that comprises individuals with the necessary experience to shape thenations’ defence agenda. This committee is intertwined with that of the nations’foreign affairs. As such, the Defence forces as a traditional security wing mustuphold the nations’ foreign policy and must function in line with its stipulations.“Discussion of the military in a democracy presupposes a variety of notions,including the extent to which the defence and security forces have been able to existin an era of high political activity.” (Lungu & Ngoma, 2005) One period was when thecountry’s leadership pursued a liberation agenda for neighbouring states thatinvolved the commitment of Zambian forces fighting along other troops in the region.The National Assembly Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs is taskedwith the responsibility, among others, to;“Study, report and make recommendations to the Government through theHouse on the mandate, management and operations of the Ministries ofDefence, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs, department and/or agencies  under its portfolio.Carry out detailed scrutiny of certain activities being undertaken by theMinistries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, departments and/oragencies under its portfolio and make appropriate recommendations to theHouse for ultimate consideration by the Government.” (National Assembly ofZambia, n.d.) ProfessionalTroops Various groups and individuals have hailed the Zambia Defence Force formaintaining  professionalism   in its relations with the civilian society. Among others,former President Kenneth Kaunda (Kaunda, 2017) as well as the current Commanderin Chief, Edgar Lungu (Lungu, 2019) has noted the “professionalism” of the Zambiantroops. This factor has largely contributed to the management of healthy democraticcontrol by civilian authorities over the military. “During the difficult period from the1970s to the early 1990s, the good military performance was largely the result of thehighly professional way in which the defence force carried out its tasks, despite itbeing severely under resourced.” (Lungu & Ngoma, 2005).(Chewe, 2014) shows that the professionalism of the Zambia troops also has a lot todo with their exposure to high quality military training on CMR. “Officers have thenecessary knowledge gained from Zambia Military Academy, Defence ServicesCommand and Staff College and other institutions of higher learning, from both localand abroad.” (Chewe, 2014) TryingTimes Zambia’s civil military relations have however, not always been positive. On twooccasions the structures of the defence forces and those of the executive havecome into compromising situations with the country facing two attempted coupd’etats between 1990 and 1997. “On 30 June 1990, Lt Luchembe Mwamba withothers organized a coup d’etat to seize governmental power by military force whilePresident Kaunda was on the Copperbelt to open the International Trade Fair inNdola… After midday, an announcement was made on Radio Zambia by Grey Zulu,Secretary General of UNIP, that Luchembe Mwamba and the other plotters had been  arrested. We concluded that the military takeover had been thwarted.” (Magande,2018) Some have argued that this attempt was prompted by the political andeconomic circumstances that where in the country at the time. The few rogueelements sought to take control by undermining existing systems of governance.The second attempt was allegedly much more politically oriented with blame beingplaced largely on opposition elements which included former President KennethKaunda. In this instance, the plotters seemed to represent less of the people as awhole and more of sectors of society that had been alienated by the new democraticdispensation and its methods of governance. “The Zambian Government announced… that a coup attempt that lasted a mere three hours had been suppressed withoutbloodshed and that a handful of military officers had been arrested… Zambian journalists said they knew of no particular animosity between Mr. Chiluba, a formertrade unionist, and the military.” (McNeil, 1997) TheoryinPractice Some scholars like (Chewe, 2014)have argued that Zambia has, in its early yearsexperimented with two contentious systems of CMR. They argue that the early oneparty state system demanded that the loyalty of the military, as like that of any othersector, be solely to the regime. The appointment of these military personnel togovernance positions eliminated the distinguishing element between the twostructures. This is typical of the Janowitz theory which states that “officers can stillparticipate in the politics of the nation as military and political tasks are difficult toseparate. (Janowitz, 1964).However, with the introduction of multi-party politics in 1991, the involvement of themilitary in politics, just like the involvement of politics in the operations of themilitary, is frowned upon. Several instances where such has taken place have beenresponded to with a heavy hand from the various state institutions that seek toprotect democratic control in politics as well as in the military. “In the Zambia Army,officers are urged to keep away from politics if they are to be called professionalofficers.” (Chewe, 2014) This view is the one advocated for by (Huntington, 1957).
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