Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said Government is committed to improving the welfare of members of the security services.
The President said this during the commissioning of 138 junior officers at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in Gweru.
“Government will continue to improve the conditions of service for the Defence Forces and other security apparatus. We will endeavour to provide decent accommodation and other amenities that are necessary for you to effectively carry out your duties,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe remains committed to the promotion of regional and continental integration.
“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces will therefore continue to be an active participant in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) standby force to enhance peace and security in the region and within member states,” said the President.
Yesterday’s graduation and pass-out parade of Regular Officer Cadet Course was the 36th to be held at ZMA since independence and had an initial 214 recruits of which 45 were females.
One female recruit died due to illness during the course of training.
President Mnangagwa who is the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, urged the ZMA to revisit its recruitment criteria after 76 recruits dropped out due to various reasons.
He said the ZMA should be innovative and use broader assessment in its selection to avoid loss of life and reduce the number of dropouts.
“I’m advised that Regular Officer Cadet Course number 3/36/18 commenced on 3 September 2016 with an initial enrolment of 214 candidates of whom 45 were females. It is disheartening that 76 recruits dropped out of the course including one who passed on due to illness. I wish to extend my profound condolences to the family and friends of the departed. May her soul rest in peace,” he said.
President Mnangagwa urged the Academy to adopt more contemporary and scientific indicators and variables during the selection of recruits.
“This should enable the assessment of a broader range of abilities, traits and competencies that attract a higher calibre of cadets as well as minimising the risk and costs of dropouts,” he said.
The President said he was confident that from the skills acquired, the graduates had been moulded into competitive young officers for modern day military warfare, endowed with integrity, proficiency and efficiency.
He said the qualities combined with selflessness, hard work and patriotism are the hallmarks of good military leaders.
“The 21 months of Regular Officer Cadet Course which was divided into three phases, namely basic military skills, conventional warfare and low intensity operations, equipped you with the requisite tactical, regimental and administrative skills. These will assist you to serve as regular and competent officers of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said going forward, and in line with Government’s multi-faceted modernisation, deliberate investment will be made towards facilitating cadets to gain the requisite exposure through training exercises and simulations equipment that expose them to possible situations in a technologically evolving warfare.
The President commended ZMA for its continued systematic integration of female officer cadets into the course thereby ensuring gender mainstreaming and also creating equal opportunities for both women and men.
He said it was also gratifying that 135 of the 138 graduates are also graduating with Diplomas in Military Training and Education courtesy of ZMA’s association with the Midlands State University.
He said the military Academy should also take advantage of the Zimbabwe National Defence University to produce fine military personnel in the face of growing global military technology.
President Mnangagwa commended the ZDF and the graduates for their sacrifice in the face of the challenging economic situation and Covid-19 which affected the latter part of the training.
“The course number 3/36/18 was undertaken against the backdrop of challenging economic conditions, characterised by severe drought and the continuing debilitating illegal sanctions. This was worsened by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which brought about other challenges and realities. Let me commend ZMA staff and yourselves for playing your part in the fight and reduction of the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
The President said the cadets should also be inspired by their tour of liberation shrines such as Chimoio in Mozambique and Freedom Camp in Zambia. He said the visits to such historical shines should instil a sense of patriotism.
“Visits to such places of historical significance should be encouraged not only for members of the military establishment but also people from the private sector and the general public. This will help cultivate a deeper understanding of our struggle for independence, self-determination and social justice,” he said.