DEFENCE Minister Davies Chama has promised that the military recruitment exercise will be above board and based on merit.

In an interview, Chama revealed that he had resisted several requests from people to “help them” get selected.

“That is the reason why we have put it in the public domain, we have advertised and there will be a board to select the candidates. And when people apply, they are being given a reference number. So I can assure you that this selection will be above board to make sure that we pick the best as required by our various services. For instance, if you are looking for an engineer, how can you say ‘it will not be above board’? Because we are looking for qualified engineers. If you meet the criteria, you will be selected. That is why we are looking for Zambians irrespective of which political party they belong to and irrespective of how connected they are. So this issue of saying ‘no, only those who are connected will be selected’ will not work because there will be an officers’ selection board which will be able to interview the candidates. As long as you are medically fit because if you would want to join the Defence Service when you have an ailment, definitely you will not make it,” Chama said.

“My phone number is not a secret and I have never changed my number for a long time. There are people who are calling me from the entire country to say ‘please can you help us’ and I am resisting. I am telling them you have seen the advert, apply. If I were to succumb to each and every person then there would be no point for us to advertise because I also have my relatives who are qualified. I would have just selected my family forest and put them there. They would have filled all the vacancies that are there. The entire country knows me because of the positions I have held in the party so if I was to select people that I know, there would have been no point of us advertising.”

He said only the best candidates would be selected irrespective of which political party they belonged to.

“For us as a government, we don’t want to discriminate, every Zambian must be treated equally. If you are PF official, FDD official, nashala neka party official, you are NDC, UPND and if you are a Zambian who is not involved in politics, that is the reason we have put an advert so that Zambians can apply without any bias. The only thing is that we cannot pick everyone because the places are limited. Not everyone who will apply will be picked. If for instance, we are looking for 100 people, we will only pick 100 people. It is quite competitive but we will select the best of the best because we want the best in the defence force,” said Chama.