The Zambia Army has pledged to improve its interaction with the general public in order to change people’s perceptions of the army being secluded from the community.
Army Commander, Sitali Alibuzwi says the army exists for the people and should therefore serve the interests of the nation and that of its citizens.
Lieutenant General Alibuzwi was speaking in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Army Commander and Chief of Staff Geoffrey Zyeele during a media interaction at the Army Headquarters in Lusaka yesterday.
Lt. Gen. Alibuzwi explained a number of operations, exercises and activities undertaken by the Army in maintaining the country’s peace and stability, as well as contributing to national development.
Lt. Gen. Alibuzwi however noted that the activities do not get to be known and appreciated by the general public, thereby creating misconceptions, myths and misunderstandings about the Army.
The Army Commander said the interaction has provided an ideal platform for the Army to enhance its relations with the media and ultimately with the public.
“Lately, we have started embedding the media in our entourage to visit troubled areas where our peacekeepers serving under the auspices of the United Nations are deployed, so that our citizens can appreciate what their troops are doing to contribute to global peace and stability,” Lt. Gen. Alibuzwi stated.
He said the media being a fourth estate provided a forum for public transparency, which is necessary for legitimacy, accountability and trust maintenance with the public.
The Army Commander thus expressed confidence that going forward, the interaction will create a conducive environment to remove any mistrust between the Army, media and the general public.
Army Director General for Civil Military Affairs Genoa Muke observed that the media may not understand some of the protocols and procedures in the Army, hence the interaction.
Brigadier General Muke reiterated the good relationship with the media which should continue in order to increase Army visibility.
And a media expert Chibamba Kanyama stressed the importance of building trust with the stakeholders who are the community but can only be done through a vehicle, the media.
Mr. Kanyama urged the Army to teach the media on the acceptable ways and language of reporting so that the media is aware of the code of interaction with the Army.
He noted that security of the nation is everyone’s responsibility hence the media ought to be conscious of their reporting.
Meanwhile, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) National Director, Austin Kayanda expects the gap between the media and the Army to be bridged.
Mr. Kayanda explained that people need to know certain elements of the Army, including the successes which ought to be celebrated by the general public.