PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says his government wants to see an increased number of female cadets being trained as a way of working towards achieving Zambia’s goal of gender equity.

And President Hichilema says he is proud of Zambia Army officers for their discipline and the manner in which they carry out peacekeeping missions.

Speaking during the commissioning of Zambia Army Officer cadets in Kabwe, Friday, President Hichilema said he was pleased to learn that some of the officer cadets being commissioned were women who were trained together with their male counterparts.

“We are pleased to learn that some of the officer cadets being commissioned here today are young women trained together with their male counterparts. This is a great achievement. I think in the past the concern was whether you could train men and women together. But these are all equal citizens and I’m very delighted they were able to train together. It is important going forward as we see a number of women graduating today, we would like to see an increased number of female cadets so that we can work towards achieving our goal as a nation in terms of gender equity. Obviously, the SADC protocol is talking to the same subject of gender equity, the African Union protocol and indeed the United Nations protocol,” he said.

And President Hichilema said he was proud of the Zambia Army officers for their discipline and the manner they carry out peacekeeping missions.

“I must mention that we are proud of the Zambia Army, very proud. We are proud for many reasons including your carrying out of the peacekeeping missions. As I have traveled around the country, more important in the region, around the world, one thing that has come out consistently as I meet other Presidents and indeed the African Union, SADC and obviously the United Nations colleagues, one thing that comes out all the time and they always say to me ‘HH, Mr President, thank you for sending us disciplined and hard working soldiers and other service colleagues in these missions’. We are proud of you for that reason and many other reasons. So keep it up,” he said.

President Hichilema emphasised the need to uphold professionalism.

“In a democratic state like ours with strong democratic credentials, you are expected to be a loyal soldier to the government and to the people of Zambia. As the Army commander said, to begin to bring professionalism in the country which we began to see getting eroded in the past, this government is dedicated and determined to support you, to work with you the Army commander to return our institutions back to professionalism, to professional days. You can count on us because to some extent that is what will ensure stability in our country,” he said.

“The role is to maintain national security and peace to the benefit of all the people of Zambia across the 10 provinces of Zambia and all the ethnic groups that God put in this land of Zambia by his own choice, by his own design. You are all equal before each other, you are equal before your fellow citizens. There is a reason I’m emphasizing on this as I talk about return to professionalism, inclusiveness in our country, treating each other equitably, that will lead to the reunification of our country which this government is to some extent is committed to doing.”

And President Hichilema urged the graduates to always execute their duties diligently.

“The commissioning parade is the climax of the officer cadet and successful completion of their basic military training. To me, it refreshes my mind when I went through military training as well. So I see these cadets, I see them, I see myself in them and it is a delightful day to be here. Yes, you could say it was tough, it was challenging but I know you are stronger. Done is the challenge you went through and that’s why you managed to complete the course. So you are the tough one and you have managed to complete as it is evidenced. So you are capable of fulfilling your duties, your noble calling of defending our great nation Zambia. We know as part of the global community, it’s also our duty to keep the global village peaceful and hence the service that we render on various peace missions around the continent. Every Zambian expects you to live up to your training as you graduate. Please execute your duties diligently,” said President Hichilema.