Paidamoyo Chipunza Herald Reporter
FOR the first time since independence, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces now has a female Brigadier General in its ranks after Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces President Mugabe elevated Shailet Moyo from the rank of Colonel.In a military set up, a Brigadier General commands nearly 4 000 infantry troops. Although Brig Gen Moyo will be Brigadier General (administration) based at Army Headquarters, under ZDF’s equal opportunity for gender, she is expected to perform duties like any other Brigadier General — making her the most powerful woman in the army.
She joins other high ranking female one star generals in the Sadc region from countries such as South Africa and Tanzania who are also involved in administrative duties.
The female generals have not been involved in combat. In fact, a senior ZDF officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said there have not been a scenario where female officers have been involved in combat related responsibilities, including in the United States.
Having joined the ZDF in 1983 as a lieutenant, Brig Gen Moyo rose through the ranks, becoming captain in 1985, major in 1994, lieutenant colonel in 2002 and colonel in 2004 before being promoted to her new rank as brigadier general effective September 5.
In an interview soon after being conferred with the new rank at KGVI in Harare last Friday, Brig Gen Moyo was all smiles as she explained how she started her career during the liberation struggle.
“It has been a long way, but I started off during the liberation struggle,” she said. “I then joined the ZNA at independence as a general staffer.
“I have always thought that some things are impossible, but I have seen it today that all things are possible and hard work pays. The doors are now open and every woman has a chance to rise to the highest level.”
Brig Gen Moyo, who is a mother of four, paid tribute to her family, subordinates and workmates for supporting her throughout her career.
“If it were not for those people, I would not have been here today,” she said. “Their support, their encouragement and their faith in me kept me going. I really thank them for being there for me.”
Brig Gen Moyo recently graduated with a degree in Defence Studies from the National Defence College and is studying towards a Masters in International Relations.
She holds an HND honours in human resources.
“The sky is the limit,” said Brig Gen Moyo. “I will keep on advancing my education to compete with my male counterparts. I have learnt that with your education, your loyalty and your patriotism, your rewards are unquestionable.”
Brig Gen Moyo urged fellow women in the army to follow her footsteps and never tire from advancing their educational qualifications.
She said women in the ZDF should attain required qualifications, be loyal and patriotic for them to be rewarded with promotions.
Brig Gen Moyo was recently promoted in terms of section 15 (1) (b) of the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02).