Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga says the history of the liberation war and the origins of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces should be accurately recorded to help future generations understand it from an African perspective and draw some lessons.
Speaking in an interview on Sunday ahead of commemorations to mark Defence Forces Day at the National Sports Stadium today, Gen Chiwenga said the early part of the liberation history had not been properly recorded.
Defence Forces Day is this year running under the theme “Tracing the Genesis of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces”.
Gen Chiwenga said the process to record the history started only two years ago when the ZDF launched the Military History Project, which is part of the Zimbabwe Liberation Heritage Preservation Project.
He said there was a danger that most people who participated in the liberation war would die before giving their accounts of the struggle.
“We want to trace the origins of the ZDF; what is it that makes the ZDF; what is the origin of the ZDF?” said Gen Chiwenga.
“We are going back to 1962 when the liberation movements in this country realised that independence was not going to come on a silver platter, but we had to fight the colonial regime so we could get our independence. This is the history which must now be captured. That is the genesis of the ZDF.
“We always say the present is informed by the past and the present informs the future and you cannot separate these three. If this country has to be protected, people must understand where we have come from. What is it which makes people in this country today to enjoy that freedom and independence which we all cherish?”
Gen Chiwenga said the ZDF did not only offer military training, but had also facilitated and encouraged its members to develop academically.
“We now have a National Defence College which is currently our highest institution of military learning offering military studies and other academic studies such as the economy and the political system in the country,” he said.
“As we train our men, women and officers, we do not forget to sharpen them mentally. We are now recruiting from Advanced Level and undergraduates for the officers and we also encourage them that once they have joined the force, they advance themselves academically.
“We pride ourselves for having produced lots of officers who have now completed their masters (degrees), and some are now doing their PHD studies.”
Gen Chiwenga hailed the defence forces for their participation in regional operations as this promotes unity. “At the international level, we still subscribe to peacekeeping operations,” he said. “The Sadc Peacekeeping Training Centre is here.
“It is now an institution which belongs to the region. Most of the officers and civilians who are going to be deployed for UN or African Union mission go through that institution.”
Gen Chiwenga expressed appreciation to the populace for helping the defence forces to maintain peace.