The Herald, 16 July 1980
THE integration of ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas with the former Rhodesian security forces is expected to gain momentum early next month.
The first batch of ZANLA and ZIPRA officers graduate at the end of this month.
They have been training under the British military advisory team, and will take charge of retraining the former guerrillas.
First attempts to integrate the three forces were marred by what a senior British officer called “tactlessness” and “mistrust” among the men, causing the Prime Minister Mr Mugabe, to complain that the exercise was proceeding too slowly.
Government then decided to concentrate on producing training officers, and more British personnel were invited.
Sources said yesterday there were now about 80 men from Britain, and the team is expected to reach a maximum of approximately 130.
Britain’s Chief of General Staff, General Sir Edwin Bramall, arrives in Salisbury next week and will stay until the end of the month, the sources said.
Sir Edwin will visit members of the British military advisory team. It is understood he was invited by the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly expressed his determination to see an integrated Zimbabwe National Army as soon as possible.
While some British officers have been training Zimbabwean officers, others have been handling the integration of 617 ZIPRA and 620 ZANLA forces, who started their retraining stints in February and March, respectively.
A British source said although the integration was “going slowly”, his administration was “satisfied” with the progress.
The British team under Brigadier Patrick Palmer, is expected to be here “well into next year”, but its continued presence was a matter of negotiation between Zimbabwe and Whitehall, the source said.
Zimbabweans are being trained as officers and NCOs and their release into the field is expected to ease some of the strains that were impeding the integration programme.
The Government has said all guerrillas in assembly points intending to continue military careers will be given an opportunity to join the new Zimbabwe Army.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Following Independence, the major hurdle facing the new Government was the unification and amalgamation of the three armies that had fought each other for many years: ZANLA and ZIPRA on one side, and the Rhodesian forces on the other. Bringing together the different protagonists into one unit was not an easy task as people today see the seamless Zimbabwe Defence Forces. There was an element of mistrust.
The British played a major role in the integration process through training the officers and offering technical expertise to the new army. This train-the-trainer led to the establishment of institutions like the Zimbabwe Defence University, where local, continental and international officers receive high level training.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has over the years transformed into a professional force that has participated in a number of United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping missions in Africa and beyond.
Despite the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West, the ZDF, working together with regional and some international partners has managed to remain professional — ensuring that national and regional peace and security remain top priority.
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