Herald ReporterTHE construction of the National Defence College in 2010 was a direct response to national security threats posed by the imposition of illegal sanctions by Western countries and the need to preserve the country’s independence, President Mugabe has said.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was speaking at the inaugural graduation of 23 senior army officers from the NDC in Harare yesterday.
Officers, who completed the 11-month long Course 01/2012, graduated with certificates.
President Mugabe said illegal sanctions imposed by the West on Zimbabwe were causing unwarranted suffering to ordinary people.
“The illegal sanctions imposed on us after we embarked on our land reform programme caused untold suffering to the generality of ordinary Zimbabweans,” he said.
“When our country faced a plethora of complex national security challenges, a situation deliberately stirred by agents of regime change with our people also facing many hardships, our independence was indeed threatened.
“After thorough consultations and deliberations, the establishment of the National Defence College was conceived as one way of effectively dealing with the externally-induced threats to our national security.
“The construction of the National Defence College, therefore, became part of the answer to our problems.”
President Mugabe said although construction of a defence college was seen as the panacea to the externally-induced security threats, funding of that project remained a challenge.
The President paid tribute to China for extending an unconditional loan to Zimbabwe to undertake the initiative.
“Although our own Treasury coffers were almost dry, we were convinced that establishing an institution that would bring together senior officers and officials of diverse experiences and backgrounds to study national security was imperative.
“The Chinese government readily supported us in establishing an institution that would immensely contribute towards safeguarding our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“They (Chinese) unconditionally extended an interest-free loan of US$98 million for the construction of the college. I wish to sincerely thank the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China for their unwavering support to Zimbabwe.”
President Mugabe hailed the Chinese Government for assisting the college with various learning materials during its initial stages.
“Although today is an occasion for celebration, I wish to note that in addition to its normal teething problems, the programme’s difficulties were compounded by the illegal sanctions induced economic challenges,” he said.
“During the initial phases, for example, there was a shortage of furniture and teaching aids. The shortage of computers, projectors and printers presented a challenge to efficient conduct of the teaching and learning.
“It is against this background that I once again want to thank the Chinese government for coming to our rescue by donating the requisite furniture, teaching equipment and aids, state-of-the art information and communication technology equipment, buses, solar equipment to augment electricity supplies during periods of rationing and an ambulance.”
President Mugabe said it was his fervent hope that courses offered at the NDC would be unique and had a direct bearing on the field of national security.
He said the graduation of the 23 officers was a clear attestation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ commitment to safe guard the country’s independence and territorial integrity.
The enrolment at the National Defence College, President Mugabe said, was a concurrent study of the National Defence Course and the Master of Science Degree Course.
President Mugabe said the graduates completed 11 months of intense study aimed at developing participants’ leadership competencies and analytical skills.
He said the certificate offered by the NDC was well recognised because of the college’s cooperation with institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe and engagement of experts from other countries.
“Further to cooperation with the University of Zimbabwe, the National Defence College sought other local and international cooperating partners,” said President Mugabe.
“In this regard, international military and civilian experts participated in the delivery of instruction on courses. Notable among the experts are Pakistani and Chinese professors.”
President Mugabe said it was heartening to note that the college’s plans to graduate into a National Defence University by 2015 were well on course.
The graduation was attended by out-going Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, out-going Minister of State Security Sydney Sekeramayi and several senior Government officials.