TODAY we join the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mugabe, in congratulating the force on its 34th anniversary.
We celebrate 34-years of commitment and patriotic fervour manifest in safeguarding our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The track record of the ZDF at home and abroad speaks of a disciplined, hard-working and professional force. The celebrations, running under the theme: “Tracing the genesis of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces”, attest to a tradition of professionalism.
The ZDF was born out of the prioritisation of the national interest over individual or group differences through the amalgamation of Zanla, Zipra and Rhodesian Front forces at Independence in 1980.
What emerged from the seeming strange bedfellows is a cohesive force that is revered at home and abroad as exemplified by their continued endorsement for UN peacekeeping missions all over the world.
The ZDF has undertaken peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world including Mozambique, the Democratic People’s Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, East Timor and others.
Their desire to see a peaceful environment prevailing globally has made the ZDF serve in places where they expose themselves to life-threatening situations, the most recent being the deadly Ebola virus ravaging some West African states.
The quest for excellence is evident in continuous training of members.
Collaboration with regional defence forces shows that the ZDF is not just a national force.
The National Defence College is also testimony of ZDF’s desire to remain a professional entity. President Mugabe has commended efforts to transform the college into a National Defence University by 2015.
As a people’s force, the ZDF has also embarked on a number of social responsibility programmes in all provinces — coming to the aid of disadvantaged members of society.
In some areas they have constructed schools, houses, and bridges and also provided social amenities such as healthcare services.
All in all, the ZDF has over the past three decades demonstrated that it is a people’s force.
The force was not spared the ravages of the illegal sanctions regime through arms embargoes that forced the Air Force of Zimbabwe, for instance, to ground a number of British made jet fighters. Despite the challenges, the ZDF has remained upbeat and formidable
As a nation, we have enjoyed peace due to the sacrifices of these men and women in uniform.
During this 34th anniversary, it should be the nation’s turn to also look at the needs of members of the Defence Forces and their families, and see how best they can be met: working conditions and remuneration, health and education, housing, transportation and other rights enjoyed by all the citizens.
It is also commendable that the ZDF has now realised the importance of immortalising the ZDF narrative: its beginning, current state and the future.
ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga was recently quoted as saying, “We want to trace the origins of the ZDF; what is it which makes the ZDF; what is the origin of the ZDF?
“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.”
These sentiments have been echoed before, especially with regard to the history of the liberation struggle and the men and women who fought and collaborated.
However, the past 34 years have not yielded much by way of books. It is our hope that the ZDF will walk the talk since their narrative dovetails with the liberation struggle.