ACTING Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said Zimbabwe and other Sadc countries have made great strides in improving their military proficiency through joint training programmes to help the bloc deal effectively with possible challenges.Addressing members of the Air Forces of Zimbabwe and Namibia during a fire power demonstration at Kutanga Range jointly conducted by the two military forces in Kwekwe yesterday, Minister Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe has contributed immensely towards peace keeping and preserving African sovereignty in the Sadc region by participating in major joint military operations that restored sanity in some troubled countries in the region.
Minister Mnangagwa who is the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said exercises such as the fire power demonstrations, premised on Sadc’s interoperability of air forces across the region, were very important as they allowed countries to identify problems and weaknesses within their forces as the region moves towards improving military activities in the region.
“As part of our objective to curb military challenges in the region we Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent troops and military equipment in DRC and the Namibian Air Force did likewise in 2013 when we were affected by floods in Tokwe-Mukosi,” he said.
Lesotho was recently left in political limbo after the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, fled to neighbouring South Africa following an attempted military coup.
The military claimed it disarmed police officers who had threatened to destabilise the nation. Lesotho has been run by a three-party coalition government since elections two years ago.
Minister Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe and Namibia have a well documented history which dates back to the liberation struggle.
He said countries formed a unity of purpose during the liberation struggle era.
“Therefore, such joint military exercises are meant to cement the symbiotic relationship that exists between the two countries. Our two countries enjoy cordial relations,” he said.
Minister Mnangagwa said the fire power demonstrations were a positive initiative meant to implement Sadc’s Aviation Standing Committee objective of achieving oneness and compatibility among air forces in the region as the bloc prepares to host the African Union’s field training exercise.
“Such initiatives are very important as they create compatibility among us, especially in preparation of the region’s hosting the African Union’s Field Training exercise to be hosted in the region in March 2015,” said Minister Mnangagwa.
Speaking at the same occasion, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri said the initiative was a successful review of the air power role in military activities across the region.
“The exercise is powered by the Sadc Aviation Standing committee whose main objective is to ensure interoperability of air forces across the region in order to effectively deal with security problems within the region. The interoperability of air forces can only be achieved through conducting joint operations such as this one. Over the years a number of trainings have been done under the Sadc Aviation Standing Committee,” he said.
Air Marshal Shiri said this year’s exercise was based on precision bombing and aiming the target with the use of bombs and guns.
“After witnessing such an exercise we do hope that it has achieved the Sadc’s objective of interoperability among regional air forces. We will therefore consolidate the objective by continually conducting such joint demonstrations in the future,” he said.