Central Africa Time Zone UTC+02:00
Capital City Lusaka
Currency Zambian kwacha
National Day 24 October
BORN IN 1957, Zambia’s new High Commissioner His Excellency Lieutenant General Paul Mihova recalls how just as he was leaving secondary school, the government announced that “every school-leaver nation-wide was to be drafted into ZambiaNational Service.” Military training was mandatory for all apart from those accepted into college or university. “This was no simple feat, given that at the time, Zambia only had two universities and a few colleges,” he remarks. “Competition was stiff.”
This scarcity of university places along with the “killings of African freedom fighters from colonial rule,” encouraged Lieutenant General Mihova to pursue a military career. However, as “Zambia was busy at that time training fighters of Liberation Movements from neighbouring countries,” he had to wait until the age of 22 when he was “honoured” to be selected as one of 79 officer cadets in the Zambia Military Academy, and further training followed at The Military Establishment of Zambia (MILTEZ).
The High Commissioner believes that the shaping of his career began to take place once he’d achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant, as he attended numerous training courses, which equipped him to step up the career ladder until he became a Senior Officer capable of leading troops.” Lt Gen Mihova reveals that entering the senior ranks of the army created opportunities for him to train abroad, in Canada, Pakistanand South Africa. This breadth of international experience and range of qualifications instilled skills that would later be useful in diplomacy, yet more immediately resulted in his appointment as Commander of the Zambian Army, and subsequently, the rank of Lieutenant General in 2011.
Commenting on his tenures as Defence Attaché in Mozambique, (2006-09) and then South Africa, (2009-11), Lt Gen Mihova believes these postings would later help him in his role as High Commissioner, particularly his time in Mozambique, where he was Chargé d’Affaires for six months. “This period gave me the confidence and experience to head a Diplomatic Mission.” However, more broadly, he believes his entire career in the army, spanning nearly 40 years, provided him with: “a lot of experience of interacting with officials at various levels from different countries in the world. This will definitely be advantageous when creating relationships with the UK government and other countries accredited to the UK.”
The High Commissioner arrived in London in December last year, with his wife Christine and their grandson Paul. His Excellency reveals plans to “enhance the already warm and cordial relationship that exists between Zambia and the UK.” Moreover, he will “ensure that trade and investment between the two countries is enhanced too, leveraging the advantage of being a member of the Commonwealth.” Commenting on the effect of Brexit on Zambian-British relations, His Excellency anticipates Zambia being “a beneficiary of this divorce,” stating: “I believe that the UK will now look towards Africa, particularly Zambia. Being endowed with abundant natural resources, Zambia will attract greater UK trade and investment, without the need to go through the EU, but rather through bilateral arrangements.”
On the subject of his country’s diplomatic challenges, His Excellency reveals that “budget constraints mean that the country does not have “a physical diplomatic presence in all countries of the world, which makes it difficult to collaborate on a daily basis.”
Reflecting on his career, the High Commissioner notes there have been many memorable moments such as his “Commissioning Day as an Officer in the Zambian Army on 28th November 1980, my swearing-in ceremonies as Army Commander, and later as High Commissioner.” However, His Excellency reveals that the day he presented his Credentials to Her Majesty the Queen was “epic and exciting.” Describing the day, he reveals that “being driven in a chariot with four horses to meet The Queen was a complete marvel. I had the opportunity to spend almost 20 minutes conversing with Her Majesty during the ceremony. It was a day never to forget!”
Aside from his work responsibilities, His Excellency enjoys listening to and analysing global news, and frequently watches the National Geographic Channel, which never fails to teach him “something new.” Whilst helping him relax, Lt Gen Mihova notes these hobbies also help him to “gain a better understanding of our world, and of the political, social, economic and environmental issues that exist in countries around the globe.”