President Edgar Lungu Friday broke ground in Makeni, Lusaka, on the new Defence Services Command and Staff College and the National Defence University.
The two institutions will be housed on the same property.
The start of work on the two higher learning institutions for defence professionals coincided with the silver jubilee festivities for the Defence Services Command and Staff College’s 25th anniversary.
President Lungu proceeded to the launch shortly after gracing a ceremony to mark the silver jubilee where he awarded the college a certificate of recognition for attaining the milestone.
President Lungu was also the recipient of a college souvenir at the ceremony which also saw the honouring of former service chiefs namely General Kingsley Chinkuli, and General Peter Zuze among others, who were both instrumental in coming up with the concept of establishing a Command and Staff College as far back as 1976.
Mr Lungu who arrived via the presidential chopper at the construction site in Makeni shortly after the ceremony disclosed that the two institutions will be complete in two years’ times.
Speaking during a luncheon to mark the occasion, the president expressed confidence that he will be available to commission the institutions once construction works are complete.
He wished the defense services the best of luck as they work towards completing the project in two years’ time.
“In two years’ time, he (Defence Services Command and Staff College Commandant Brigadier General Benson Musonda) has promised me that we will commission this National Defence University. I will be pleased to be here with all of you,” Mr Lungu said.
Earlier, President Edgar Lungu has appealed to the defence services to remain impartial as the country heads to the August 12 General election.
President Lungu said that the defence services should instead be preoccupied with sustaining peace and security in the run up to the polls.
Speaking at the Silver Jubilee celebration of the existence of the Defence Services Command and Staff College in Lusaka today, President Lungu said the defence services should not compromise in any way.
He warned that any compromise on the part of the military personnel would endanger the nation.
“The general election will be held on 12 August, 2021, I therefore wish to caution all of you to remain nonpartisan,” he said.
And President Lungu has directed the Ministry of Higher Education to make the Defence Services Command and Staff College the highest military learning institution in the country.
Mr Lungu lamented that there has been no existing statutory instrument recognizing it as the highest military institute for the Zambia defence services.
He said training the defence personnel locally has been a cost saving measure for government.
Mr Lungu said in the past government would spend colossal amounts of money training defence personnel abroad.
“I wish to acknowledge the economic benefits which have arisen to us for having a staff college in our nation,” he said.
Meanwhile the head of state applauded the college for being a credible institution of high caliber.
Mr Lungu said it is commendable that even students from abroad such as Sri Lanka have enrolled at the college because of the reputation the institution has exhibited.
He also acknowledged that high profile military officers present and former have passed through the tutelage of the college.
And President Lungu further disclosed that once the new commandant and staff college alongside National Defence University in Makeni is complete, it will contribute immensely to the knowledge of the defence staff.
“Despite the challenges that the services are faced with like inadequate resources and competing needs the service chiefs rose above these challenges and went ahead to initiate this project, this is commendable,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary Felix Phiri praised government for making plans to construct an ultra-modern staff college a reality.
“We are grateful as a Ministry that your able administration has taken up the challenge to implement the construction of the staff college to be co-located with the National Defence University,” Dr Phiri said.
And Defence Services Command and Staff College Commandant Brigadier General Benson Musonda applauded government for the constant support to the institution.
Meanwhile the institution awarded President Lungu a college souvenir while the President also gave the college a certificate of recognition for attaining 25 years of existence.
Others who were honoured at the ceremony are General Kingsley Chinkuli, General Nobby Simbeye and General Peter Zuze.