LUSAKA, Zambia (PANA) — Zambian President Frederick Chiluba dropped vice president Godfrey Miyanda in a major cabinet reshuffle Tuesday in which he also demoted Defence Minister Ben Mwila and redeployed army commander Gen. Nobby Simbeye into the foreign service.
Chiluba also announced the retirement of Zambia Air Force commander Gen. Ronnie Shikapwasha. Chiluba, who announced these changes at a State House press conference in Lusaka, said the measure was not necessarily connected to the fail coup Oct. 28.
He has appointed Christon Tembo, recently the minister for mines and minerals development, to take over from Miyanda who has been assigned the education ministerial portfolio. Chiluba has elevated Chitalu Sampa, a long time ally in the trade union movement and until now minister of home affairs, to the defence ministry portfolio.
The minister of foreign affairs, Lawrence Shimba, who has been moved to head the Ministry of Science and Technology. He has been replaced at by the former minister of works and supply, Keli Walubita.
The minister of labour, Peter Machungwa, takes over the Ministry of Home Affairs while the former minister of education, Siamukayumbu Siamujaye, has been moved to the mines ministry.
Chiluba has appointed deputy army commander Maj. Gen. Solomon Mumbi as the new commander. Brig. Gen. Sundie Kayumba takes command of the air fore. Chiluba said the changes were designed to optimise efficiency and accountability in the government.
The reshuffle is the first major rearrangement of Chiluba's cabinet since 1994 when it was rocked by a spate of ministerial resignations which included Chiluba's first vice president, Levy Mwanawasa. Among those who left the government then were the ministers of agriculture, Guy Scott; legal affairs, Roger Chongwe; sports, the late Baldwin Nkumbula, science and technology Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika, and mines Humphrey Mulemba.
Tuesday's changes came barely a month after foiled coup of Oct. 28, in which a section of the country's military attempted to depose Chiluba's government for alleged corruption and endemic poverty among Zambians.
It was foiled by a brigade of the army's elite commando unit. The government has detained some 84 suspects, mostly army officers and several opposition politicians in connection with the coup. They include the leader of the opposition Zambia Democratic Congress, Dean Mung'omba and Frederick Mwanza, a prominent supporter of the main opposition United National Independence Party of former President Kenneth Kaunda.
In the reshuffle, Chiluba retained Finance Minister Ronald Penza whom he said he wanted to continue with the country's economic programme. Penza has been credited by Zambia's international cooperating partners with keeping the country's reform programme on track. This task has meant overseeing the privatisation process which has been cited as among the most successful economic privatisation programmes in the region.
Chiluba has also retained Michael Sata, the outspoken minister without portfolio, in his old post. The sole female cabinet member, Edith Nawakwi, also continues at the Ministry of Agriculture.
Others still at their old posts are Katele Kalumba at health, Amusaa Mwanamwambwa at tourism, Dawson Lupunga at lands, Vicent Malambo at legal affairs, Information Minister David Mpamba, Local Government Minister Ben Mwiinga and Eric Silwamba, who has been retained as minister in Chiluba's office at state house.
The Minister of Energy and Water Development, Suresh Desai, has moved to works and supply ministry while Alfeyo Hambayi at commerce, trade and industry now goes to environment. The former minister of science and technology, Enock Kavindele, has taken over at commerce. Chiluba has moved the minister for sports and child development, Samuel Miyanda, to community development and his former post has been assigned to William Harrington, formerly at the Ministry of the Environment.
Chiluba said Tuesday he would announce similar reshuffles next week involving permanent secretaries in the government ministries.