Thursday, May 30, 2024

The IG’S Three Stars: The President should Order the Inspector General of Police to Remove them


By Fred M’membe, President of the Socialist Party

Over the past week, I have read many opinions or arguments concerning the three stars of a Lieutenant General’s put on the Inspector General of Police’s official motor vehicle. I have no intention or desire to prolong this debate. If anything, I would like it to come to a close.

But before I do this, I want to make it very clear that there is no profession that is not important. A soldier or military officer is no more important than a policeman (woman) or officer. But their roles are different – they are different professions with different traditions, customs and values.

Let’s leave military traditions, customs and values to the Army, Zambia Air Force and Zambia National Service – military institutions. And let the Police be Police – a civilian institution with its own traditions, customs and values.
My plea is to the President of the Republic of Zambia, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of all our armed forces, to order the Inspector General of Police to remove those three stars and revert to the usual police tradition of ZP1.

Allowing the three stars is to condone anarchy with no end or limits. This is not a contest between the Police (civilian) and the Army, Air Force and ZNS (military). It’s just a matter of doing things the right way. And let’s do them the right way, even if it calls for our greatest efforts.

I also urge the Commander-in-Chief to elevate the Army Commander from the rank of Lt Gen to General. It will smoothen the command structure of our armed forces. And in future, we should consider making the ZNS Commandant a Maj Gen, and not Lt Gen. The ZAF Commander can remain a Lt Gen.

Military life is highly based on traditions, customs and values. Some of these are customs and courtesies. But, what are customs and courtesies? Customs are established practices, and courtesies could be defined as good manners and politeness. Every civilised army should have a regulation – “Salutes, Honours and Courtesy” that “provides general policies and procedures for the rendition of salutes, honours, ceremonies, customs, and visits of courtesy”. For example, the mandatory hand salute between officers and enlisted personnel of the armed forces.

What were the origins of the hand salute? Actually, we don’t know. There are some theories for this action. Some say that Roman Empire soldiers used to slap their chest and raise their right hand as a symbol of respect and to show that they were unarmed. Another theory points to the Middle Ages, when knights raised the cover of their helmets to identify themselves as friendly. In the 1600s, the British started to salute with their hats, raising them to show respect to officials. Although these are some theories, there is no exact date for the birth of the hand salute.

However, armed forces adopted the salute as a necessary requirement for soldiers. Although, some of the ranks, ceremonies and personnel do not demand a hand salute, a soldier must always display good manners. These are some of the customs and traditions armed forces all over the world have adopted:

(i) Never offer excuses.
(ii) Never go over your superiors, use your chain of command.
(iii) Never turn and walk away to avoid giving the hand salute, among others.

Customs and courtesies are key for a cohesive relationship in the armed forces. Furthermore, all of these beliefs have a set of values that cement the course of action that a soldier takes in the course of his daily life. The hand salute is more than a simple “greeting”, it is a symbol of respect, honour and integrity.

When a soldier salutes a high-ranking officer, he or she is not saluting the individual but showing respect to the rank. On the other hand, the Army has a set of ranks and positions that do not require a hand salute, but proper manners and courtesies are highly recommended. For example, the non-commissioned officer (NCO) does not require a hand salute, but proper courtesies are always expected.

Without a doubt, our armed forces have a very strict mission and vision for the new soldier. They need to have professionals in all their departments and above all, soldiers with values. When soldiers salute or greet their comrades, they are living up to the general military core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity and personal courage. Values define who you are as a military person, they go hand in hand with the customs and courtesies of the military.

Without a doubt, leadership is very important to the implementation of customs and courtesies in the military. Being a leader is a dynamic process. More than words, it is to take action. Leaders have to set an example and be proactive with their soldiers so they can be educated and moulded to their customs and courtesies. The military has a set of values that are not negotiable and cannot be broken. These are the foundations to continue their customs and courtesies.
Therefore, leadership should be the foundation and example to apply all the customs and courtesies of our military. We have to build them up, not crash them down.

What should our leaders – political, military and otherwise – do as leaders to apply these customs and courtesies as a good culture in our military? Our leaders must have patience, trust and respect with our military personnel. This goes all the way from the top to the bottom, so we can get in line.

Let’s not act based on emotions, but as effective stewards of the profession. Military customs and courtesies are the foundation of our military. There’s a general decline in adherence to military traditions and customs, and this comes out clearly at military parades, state funerals and other military ceremonies.

I urge our military leaders, both officers and NCOs, to pay greater attention to this decay or erosion, and reverse it.


  1. I honestly do not understand why this matter is continuing. Inspector-General of Zambia Police Lemmy Kajoba should be reprimanded and refund the money used to affix the 3 stars if it came from government.

    • Awe mwe. He starts off saying I have no intention or desire to prolong this debate. But goes on to give a long lecture that prolongs this very debate . Yaba!
      King Fred, the Chitimukulu’s extended relative, evader of Zambia’s taxes, Politician who hid behind Journalism for years, Socialist who doesnt practice socialism, Noisemaker who pretends to be a politican

  2. Those three stars on the Inspector General of Police’s official vehicle may be interpreted by army officers deserving them and their juniors as undermining them and their profession. We should learn to avert any conflict between the Zambia army and the Police.

  3. My friend is a policeman and has three stars on his shoulder, similar to the three stars soldiers wear on their shoulders. Is Membe also calling on them to remove these stars?

    • He has mixed up the debate. What he wants to say is that when a Police Force decides to rebrand itself as a Police Service it should drop military behaviours that identify it like the army. In Army conduct a junior always acknowledges that he is aware of his senior’s presence. By saluting him. Saluting entails a word of mouth greeting and/or a bodily behaviour.
      The senior officer’s vehicle, no matter who is inside it, also commands the same respect. Thats why it has a rank(Three stars).

    • However since our Police Force abandoned “Force” for Service the three stars on the IG’s car should have dissappeared. Police should stop behaving like military officers. For example they should stop forcing civillians who enter their premises to take off their head dress (hats) because these civilians are not part of the force. If anything Police are serving these citizens. Its the citizens who should be respected.

  4. Cha Cha Cha Thank you for your educative explanation. What do you say about the rankings of the commanders of ZAF, ZNS, and ZA?

  5. Police are not military. They don’t keep their ranks after retirement like military. IG is a civilian with a job of maintaining law and order. Let him not behave like military. In fact he is not even supposed to have an escort.


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