Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday called on the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to remain vigilant in guarding against threats to the country’s security and to play a critical role in ensuring the attainment of Vision 2030. He said there was a need for the defence forces to remain loyal, technologically sound and to keep abreast with modern world military trends as the country marches towards attaining Vision 2030.
The President, who is also the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, said this while addressing thousands of people who converged at the giant National Sports Stadium to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“I challenge the ZDF to always be mindful of the fact that building and developing a new Zimbabwe requires a force which is loyal, patriotic, reliable and committed,” he said.
“I further urge you to remain resourceful and vigilant towards enhancing and guarding against contemporary threats to our country’s defence and security. In this regard, economic instability, moral decadence and social instability are among the factors that can threaten our national security. I exhort you, therefore to appropriately meet the demands towards the attainment of Vision 2030 with zeal and dedication.
“The need to harness the vast potential presented by our country’s current development stage cannot be overemphasised. As men and women of the ZDF, it is incumbent on you to individually and collectively play your part in the provision of home grown solutions to enhance our modernisation, industrialisation, self-reliance and independence.”
The President also urged the ZDF to work closely with grass root communities and co-ordinate economic development with defence and security.
President Mnangagwa said the ZDF Day provided the country with an opportunity to honour and celebrate the country’s armed forces for their unparalleled achievements in defence of the country’s territorial integrity, independence and self-determination.
“Since the attainment of independence, our country has enjoyed its constitutionally enshrined rights, peace and stability as a result of the loyalty, selfless dedication and sacrifices of these fine men and women of our nation,” he said.
“The role of our defence forces has never been an easy one since the years prior to independence when young brave men and women waged a relentless armed struggle against the British settler colonial rule. Thousands of our gallant fighters and civilians perished in the quest for the freedoms we enjoy today. Our nation continues to take stock of the loss of life and limb occasioned by the armed struggle.”
The President said since the attainment of the independence, the ZDF has taken up many roles including securing the country’s trade routes through Mozambique and restoring sovereign legitimacy of the DRC.
“Furthermore the ZDF continues to play a significant role in the maintenance of international peace and security in other parts of the world. Notable deployments in this regard include previous and current support to the UN’s efforts to securing peace in Angola, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic.
“Our men and women served and continue to serve in some of these campaigns with diligence and professionalism that have earned them world acclaim. Back home the ZDF continue to play various roles as part of their constitutional peacetime mandate. They have as and when requested, supported the maintenance of law and order, border control operations and guarding the country’s key infrastructure and institutions,” President Mnangagwa said.
He also applauded the ZDF for the intervention when Cyclone Idai hit the country early this year.
“We applaud their swift, brave and focused intervention in the quest to reach inaccessible communities in the Cyclone-ravaged areas of Chimanimani and Chipinge Districts.
“The ZDF units remain on site to this day, rebuilding roads, bridges and other damaged infrastructure,” President Mnangagwa said.
The President also thanked the South African National Defence Forces for their assistance in the reconstruction of temporary Bailey bridges in the affected areas.
He added that Government was committed to the modernisation of the ZDF.
“In view of the ever changing, socio-economic and technological and security architecture, the modernistion and capacitation of our defence forces has become urgent and imperative.
“My Government is therefore prioritising the upgrading of equipment as well as facilitating focused training of specialised units in both the Army and Airforce.
“The provision of skills training and raising the forces preparedness in general will also receive my administration’s full support,” President Mnangagwa said.
He also said Government was also working to improve the ZDF’s conditions of service.
“My administration remains committed to improving the conditions of service of our armed forces. My Government is aware that our defence forces are equally affected by the economic difficulties faced by the general citizenry. Efforts are at an advanced stage to re-introduce the military salary concept.
“We shall equally expedite the construction of accommodation facilities for the armed forces. Notable housing projects under construction are the Dzivarasekwa and Mbizo schemes, which when complete will provide accommodation for commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
“The Transitional Stabilisation Programme which promotes production and restricts Government spending is ongoing with its attendant reform measures. The medicine to cure our economic ailment will be bitter and often painful whether within household or at State level. But the darkest hour comes before dawn,” President Mnangagwa said.
He however, bemoaned the practice by some unscrupulous businesses to unjustifiably raise prices and also reiterated Government’s commitment to eradicate corruption.
President Mnangagwa said the Government will ensure that the ZDF plays its part in the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
“Initiatives aimed at finding African solutions to African problems will also be supported. Zimbabwe is indeed committed and ready to play its part in ensuring a more peaceful, empowered, modern, industrialised and integrated Africa,” he said.
President Mnangagwa commended the ZDF for clearing landmines planted by the colonial regime to stall the execution of the liberation war with over 900 000 square metres being cleared between August 2018 and June 2019.
The event was also graced by members of the SANDF and Lesotho Defence Forces.