commemoration of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day.
This is the first time in independent Zimbabwe that Air Vice Marshals go back to the cockpit to fly jets after attaining such high ranks.
Mostly, fighter jets are flown by ranks of air sub lieutenant to squadron leaders and in some case wing commanders.
The two are, Air Vice Marshals Elson Moyo and Sheba Shumbayaonda, who are AFZ Chiefs of Staff Operations and Supporting Services respectively. They have risen through the ranks and now have vast experience in flying fighter aircraft. Air Vice Marshal Moyo who hails from Mberengwa has a record 1 970 hours of flying, operating the Hunter, SF260M, SF260TP, Hawk, MIG 15, L29, MF1-17, T-37 fighter jets.
He received his training in Russia in 1980, Pakistan in 1983, Zimbabwe in 1985 and China in 1992. Among the many appointments he held include officer commanding Number 1 Squadron, Number 6 Squadron, officer commanding Thornhill Airbase flying wing and base commander Thornhill Airforce Base.
Air Vice Marshal Shumbayaonda who hails from Mutare has a record 2 020 flying hours operating the Genet, Hawk, L29, IAR 823, CASA 212, SF 260, T37 and Hunter FGA fighter jets. He received his training in Romania in 1983, Pakistan in 1987, United States of America in 1994 and China in 2003.
He also held several appointments in the AFZ such as A Flight commander 1 Squadron, officer commanding 2 Squadron, directing staff at Zimbabwe Staff College and Base Commander.
The two Air Vice-Marshals are highly decorated senior officers who served in various capacities in Mozambican war, Democratic Republic of Congo war and they also received several medals in recognition of their service to the defence of Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity.
They are both family men. Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Presidential spokesperson, Mr George Charamba, said today’s fly past is unique because it was being done by cadres who broke white supremacy in flying fighter jets in Zimbabwe.
Mr Charamba said the two pilots were the first blacks to receive training in other countries because the Rhodesian Front wanted to block the Africanisation of the Airforce.
“That came handy because the Rhodesians wanted to stop the Africanisation of the Airforce. Recruits (blacks) were failed for spurious reasons. The fact that these senior officials will be flying jets tomorrow (today) after attai-ning such ranks means they were not just plucked from nowhere. They rose from the cockpit to be commanders . . . It is a clear career path,” he said.
Today’s development shows that members of Zimbabwe security forces are highly trained professionals.
This dismisses calls by other players in Zimbabwe’s body politic that there should be security sector reforms.