Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) President Mnangagwa yesterday urged the forces to remain loyal, vigilant and committed to safeguarding the country and subsequent processes leading to the attainment of Vision 2030.
Attaining the vision, he said, needed loyal, patriotic, reliable, resourceful and committed defence forces who keep abreast with trending world defence technological developments and security systems.
Government is finalising special remuneration packages for the men and women in uniform, the military salary concept, and other incentives to cushion them from hardships that have affected the country’s workers.
In light of austerity measures, which will soon ease, President Mnangagwa promised defence forces an impending dawn.
The President, who is also the Head of State and Government, said this while addressing thousands of people who converged at the National Sports Stadium to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“I challenge the ZDF to always be mindful of the fact that building and developing a new Zimbabwe requires a force which is loyal, patriotic, reliable and committed,” he said.
“I further urge you to remain resourceful and vigilant towards enhancing and guarding against contemporary threats to our country’s defence and security. In this regard, economic instability, moral decadence and social instability are among the factors that can threaten our national security. I exhort you, therefore to appropriately meet the demands towards the attainment of Vision 2030 with zeal and dedication.
“The need to harness the vast potential presented by our country’s current development stage cannot be overemphasised. As men and women of the ZDF, it is incumbent on you to individually and collectively play your part in the provision of home-grown solutions to enhance our modernisation, industrialisation, self-reliance and independence.”
The President urged the ZDF to work closely with grassroots communities and coordinate economic development with defence and security.
President Mnangagwa said ZDF Day afforded the country an opportunity to honour and celebrate the country’s armed forces for their unparalleled achievements in defence of the country’s territorial integrity, independence and self-determination.
“Since the attainment of independence, our country has enjoyed its constitutionally-enshrined rights, peace and stability as a result of the loyalty, selfless dedication and sacrifices of these fine men and women of our nation,” he said.
“The role of our defence forces has never been an easy one since the years prior to Independence when young brave men and women waged a relentless armed struggle against the British settler colonial rule. Thousands of our gallant fighters and civilians perished in the quest for the freedoms we enjoy today. Our nation continues to take stock of the loss of life and limb occasioned by the armed struggle.”
He said since the attainment of independence, ZDF has taken up many roles including securing the country’s trade routes through Mozambique and restoring the sovereign legitimacy of the DRC.
“Furthermore, the ZDF continues to play a significant role in the maintenance of international peace and security in other parts of the world. Notable deployments in this regard include previous and current support to the UN’s efforts to securing peace in Angola, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic.
“Our men and women served and continue to serve in some of these campaigns with diligence and professionalism that have earned them world acclaim. Back home, the ZDF continues to play various roles as part of their constitutional peacetime mandate. They have as and when requested, supported the maintenance of law and order, border control operations and guarding the country’s key infrastructure and institutions,” President Mnangagwa said.
He applauded ZDF for its sterling role during the Cyclone Idai disaster as well as in ongoing rehabilitation efforts.
“We applaud their swift, brave and focused intervention in the quest to reach inaccessible communities in the Cyclone-ravaged areas of Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.
“The ZDF units remain on site to this day, rebuilding roads, bridges and other damaged infrastructure,” he said.
The President thanked the South African National Defence Forces for their assistance in the reconstruction of temporary Bailey bridges in the affected areas.
“In view of the ever changing, socio-economic and technological and security architecture, the modernisation and capacitation of our defence forces has become urgent and imperative.
“My Government is therefore prioritising the upgrading of equipment as well as facilitating focused training of specialised units in both the Army and Airforce. The provision of skills training and raising the forces preparedness in general will also receive my administration’s full support,” he said.
He also said Government was also working to improve the ZDF’s conditions of service.
“My administration remains committed to improving the conditions of service of our armed forces. My Government is aware that our defence forces
are equally affected by the economic difficulties faced by the general citizenry. Efforts are at an advanced stage to re-introduce the military salary concept.
“We shall equally expedite the construction of accommodation facilities for the armed forces. Notable housing projects under construction are the Dzivarasekwa and Mbizo schemes, which when complete will provide accommodation for commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
“The Transitional Stabilisation Programme which promotes production and restricts Government spending is ongoing with its attendant reform measures. The medicine to cure our economic ailment will be bitter and often painful whether within household or at State level. But the darkest hour comes before dawn,” President Mnangagwa said.
He however, bemoaned the practice by some unscrupulous businesses to unjustifiably raise prices and also reiterated Government’s commitment to eradicate corruption.
President Mnangagwa said the Government will ensure that the ZDF plays its part in the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
“Initiatives aimed at finding African solutions to African problems will also be supported. Zimbabwe is indeed committed and ready to play its part in ensuring a more peaceful, empowered, modern, industrialised and integrated Africa,” President Mnangagwa said.
He also commended the ZDF for clearing landmines planted by the colonial regime to stall the execution of the liberation war with over 900 000 square metres being cleared between August 2018 and June 2019.
The event was also graced by members of the SANDF and Lesotho Defence Forces.