who are we?

Our History

As a Land Army, ZNS was initially established to be a militant wing of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), one of the major political parties at the time agitating for Zambia’s Independence. It was largely meant to be used as a punch or gorilla military option in an event that independence negotiations on the round table collapsed.  However, the anticipated armed struggle never materialized as the United National Independence Party (UNIP) together with the African National Congress (ANC) managed to peacefully navigate the nation to independence on 24 October, 1964.


The peaceful acquisition of independence in 1964, soon brought to the fore a ticking time bomb in the mass army of the easily influenced, potentially disgruntled, uneducated and unemployed militant youths of the Land Army. There was therefore urgent need to demobilize them and redirect their zeal and energy to other important, post-independence national agendas which were national/household development and safe guarding of national security.

This is what led the government to introduce a skills training programme to empower the unskilled and unemployable youths with trades that would enable them look after themselves together with their families. This was also a way to have them seamlessly get reintegrated back into society.

The Government therefore transformed the Land Army into a productive and a more inclusive organization with a national character in 1965 and renamed it the Zambia Youth Service to help impart skills to the formerly ‘stone thrower’ youths and thus turn them into a productive component of society. This programme went on from 1965 to December 1971.


Owing to Zambia’s leading and active role in the liberation struggle of some members of the Southern African region from colonial rule, the country inadvertently attracted the wrath of the fascist Ian Smith of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the old apartheid regime of South Africa. Numerous attempts to destabilize the country through military raids and bombings were consequently made.

This situation took a heavy toll on the defence assets and resources of our country, especially being inflicted by rival forces who at the time boasted of marked superiority both in strength and armament. Government therefore saw the need to reinforce the Zambia Army by establishing a well-organized military institution to help thwart the persistent incursions. Zambia Youth Service was thus dissolved and a more militant Zambia National Service established through an Act of Parliament on 20 December, 1971.

20 December, is today commemorated as the Zambia National Service Day.


Since its establishment the Service was only involved with the training of school leavers (Citizens) in market based life sustaining skills  (production) and hence the nomenclature was befittingly COMMANDANT. The term Commandant is associated with a defence department or otherwise only dealing in one leadership component, either training or health etc.

With the diversity in its Roles and deployment it was found necessary to change the term to that of COMMANDER. On 29th December 2021, the title was overwhelmingly changed by the Council which is mandated by the President to administer lawfully the affairs of the Service. The title came into effect on 14th January 2022 through conveyance of authority by Ministry Of Defence.

Our Achieve