PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has said if he had his way’ he would reintroduce mandatory national service training for school leavers but mooted introduction of voluntary skills training programme for youths under the Zambia National Service (ZNS).
Mr Hichilema said this would be to instill discipline and commitment in young people to breed a credible and stable leadership for the country’s future.
“Previously, we had the mandatory ZNS training and as harsh as it was, I came to appreciate later in life that it was necessary. I have seen the difference in population between us who went through that training and the generation that did not,” President Hichilema said.
He was speaking in Chongwe yesterday when he graced the ZNS Golden jubilee celebrations under the theme: ’50 years of rendering unbroken service and fostering development to our motherland-Zambia.
The president urged the defence service chiefs of the Zambia Army, ZNS, Zambia Air Force and the Ministry of Defence to ensure that the programme was actualised.
Mr Hichilema urged new recruits in the army, air force, national service, police and correctional services to take the opportunity seriously and with responsibility.
“We need you to serve the nation with dignity, diligence, commitment and responsibility. So when you are recruited, do not complain; instead love what you do and you will be good at it,” President Hichilema said.
He implored the ZNS to exploit its arable resources such as land for commercial investment to be financially self-reliant.
“ZNS has the capacity to enhance agriculture production and help Zambia be the breadbasket and contribute to global food security,” Mr Hichilema said.
Mr Hichilema said the service should also enhance its contribution to the development of infrastructure such as roads.
He hailed it for its contribution to protecting the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as regional peace-building efforts in countries like Mozambique.
“We are here today to also pay tribute to our troops laying here that lost their lives in the struggle for our freedom. It is upon such a reflection that we cherish our peace; instability anywhere is instability everywhere,” he said.
Defence Minister Ambrose Lufuma assured the president that the service was building on the successes of the first- half-a-century to ensure committed service to the nation.
ZNS Commander Maliti Solochi said the service had, overtime, developed a credible track record of contributing to the development of the country’s agriculture and infrastructure development sectors.
To mark the occasion, the president led current and former service chiefs, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps in laying wreaths in honour of the fallen heroes and heroines.
Meanwhile, the president yesterday interacted with Chongwe residents after the ZNS event.
President Hichilema stopped over in the area’s central business district where he bought different merchandises like maize and mangoes from the traders.
Mr Hichilema also visited Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II and held talks with Chief Bunda- Bunda, both of the Soli people in the same area.