The Sunday Mail
Online News Editor
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, has promised improved conditions of service for the defence forces.
He made the remarks Tuesday afternoon at the National Sports Stadium where thousands gathered to mark this year’s Defence Forces’ Day.
“My administration remains committed to improving the conditions of service of our armed forces. My Government is aware that our Defence Force is equally affected by the economic difficulties faced by the general citizenry. Efforts are at advanced stage to re-introduce the Military Salary Concept.”
The Commander-in-Chief said the Government is also seized with equipping the Defence Forces “in view of the ever-changing, socio-economic and technological and security architecture”.
“My Government,” the President added, “is, therefore, prioritising the upgrading of equipment as well as facilitating focussed training of specialised units in both the Army and Air Force.”
Earlier in his speech, the President had chronicled the role played by the Defence Forces in the arduous journey towards liberating the country from British colonial settlers.
“The role of the 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 freedom we enjoy today.”
He added that the peace and stability that the country has enjoyed since independence is a result of the selfless dedication and sacrifices of the Defence Forces.
The Defence Forces, he said, have gone to play significant roles within the country and region such as securing trade routes through Mozambique as well as restoring sovereign legitimacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“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 United Nations’ efforts at securing peace in Angola, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic.”
Ten military officers were honoured for their contribution to the response to Cyclone Idai, of which “ZDF units remain on sight to this day, rebuilding roads, bridges and other damaged infrastructure. Special mention goes to members of the South African Defence Forces currently building temporary Bailey bridges in the affected areas, and other international organisations and local organisations that have remained on site.”
The Commander-in-Chief commended the ZDF for engaging in exchange programmes and joint training sessions with other forces from within the sub-region. “These exchanges have significantly enriched the knowledge base of the ZDF. In the same vein, the ZDF is preparing to participate in the Special Forces Exercise, code-named CHOMELA, scheduled to take place in Botswana next year.”
In the week leading up to Tuesday’s celebrations, the Defence Forces were involved in several initiatives, as part of their community social responsibilities. At Katema Clinic in Gokwe hundreds of villagers received free medical attention from military doctors.
At Mpopoma High School in Bulawayo, the ZDF is involved in the construction of a double-storey classroom block as well as the 32-roomed boys’ hostel at Rusunguko High School in Goromonzi, the 10-roomed girls’ dormitory at Nyatsanza Primary School at Hauna Village in Honde Valley and Nogowe Clinic in Mberengwa.
These projects, the President said, were being done in spite of the constrained fiscal space as well as the illegal sanctions imposed on the country.
He said 900 000 square metres had been cleared of landmines between August 2018 and June this year, a programme which he promised will be accelerated as more resources become available. This demining exercise, he said, would not have been possible without the selfless assistance from demining companies like Halo Trust, Norwegian People’s Aid, Mines Advisory Group and Anti-personnel Mine Detection Organisation.
Turning to the National Clean-up campaign, of which the first Friday of every month has been set aside for cleaning the environment, the Commander-in-Chief exhorted the Defence Forces to join the “war” against litter, which he said must be won.
On the economic front, and repeating part of his message during Monday’s Heroes’ Day commemorations, the President said the darkest hour is before dawn and that the country’s economic fundamentals are in place to facilitate an upward development trajectory.
He warned businesspeople who have are profiteering at the expense of the common citizenry to desist from unjustifiably enriching themselves “as there is no justification, whatsoever, why our people should be subjected to some of the high prices of goods and services that we have witnessed in recent months”.
He said the fight against corruption is real as no economy can flourish in a corrupt environment. “We are committed to zero tolerance to corruption and the law will be applied without fear or favour,” he said.
Just as he emphasised during Monday’s Heroes’ Day celebrations, the President appealed to Zimbabweans to cherish the peace that prevails today.
“We should be vigilant and reject those amongst us who wish to perpetuate the suffering of the masses through violence, disunity, divisions and unrest. It is everyone’s duty to secure the unity, freedom and peace we continue to enjoy.”
Meanwhile, the ZDF select team beat the Lesotho Defence Forces select team, 1-0, in the challenge soccer match played at the National Sports Stadium. The Minister of Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs, Honourable Oppah Muchinguri, presented the trophy.