President hails military role in Covid-19 fight
Farirai Machivenyika-Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday hailed the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) for playing a leading role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, a war that Zimbabwe has emerged victorious.
Although there are still isolated cases of Covid-19, by and large, the virulent virus has been contained, and the country’s security sector played a pivotal role in beating back the disease that disrupted lives and livelihoods through the accompanying national lockdowns.
While addressing the 42nd anniversary celebrations of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day held at the National Sports Stadium, the time the event was physically hosted since 2019 following lockdown measures adopted by Government to contain the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Mnangagwa said his administration will also continuously review salaries of servicemen and women.
“Our gathering today (yesterday) is, therefore, testimony of the great strides Zimbabwe has made in the fight against the pandemic.
“It is noteworthy that in addition to Government efforts, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in partnership with other arms of Government and partners successfully protected its members and their dependants against the impact of the pandemic. This also culminated in the production of personal protective equipment.
“These commendable efforts did not only contribute to the successful containment of the virus but also contributed to the nation’s import substitution agenda, through which the country saved significant amounts of foreign currency,” the President said.
The President added that his administration has adopted several policies to bring stability in the market as part of efforts to improve the welfare of its employees,
“Government is alive to the need to constantly review the remuneration and conditions of service for the uniformed forces, alongside those of the rest of the civil service.
“In an effort to improve the welfare of ZDF members, Government has reinstated the Military Salary Concept, and is also working on improving the transport and accommodation situation for the defence forces. To date, buses have been provided to the ZDF and more will be disbursed in future,” he said.
With regards to the provision of institutional accommodation, he said the ZDF was in the process of constructing housing units for members across the country.
“During the period under review, the ZDF Construction Regiment completed 60 housing units at Dzivarasekwa, with an additional 90 at various stages of completion. At Imbizo Barracks 30 out of the 44 blocks of units are under construction and expected to be complete by year end.
“In the same vein, Government has embraced new technology to speed up the provision of housing units. A total of 130 blocks of 12 flats are under construction at Dzivarasekwa and at Imbizo Barracks. Meanwhile, the construction of an Officer’s Mess at Jason Ziyapapa Moyo Air Force Base is expected to be complete by year end,” President Mnangagwa said.
Other projects underway, he added, include the renovation of six ZDF camps namely; Charles Gumbo Barracks, 1 Air Defence Artillery Regiment, 1 Referral Hospital, 1.3 Reserve Force Battalion, 3.1 Combat Group and 3.3 Reserve Force Battalion while preparations were underway for the construction of permanent structures at 1.3 and 3.3 Infantry Battalions in Plumtree and Chipinge.
“Government is also keen on providing the ZDF with an efficient health delivery system through the expansion of Manyame Hospital to referral status. The project is now 95 percent complete, with procurement of medical equipment underway.
“Furthermore, my Government is implementing a raft of measures to instil confidence, strengthen demand for local currency and foster market discipline,” President Mnangagwa said.
Government has been reviewing salaries and conditions of service for the military and civil servants regularly since the beginning of the year with the latest being a 100 percent increment that was effected beginning July 1.
It has also promised to continuously review the salaries and conditions as the economy improves.
The President said the annual celebration of the ZDF Day brought back memories of the difficulties they overcame in its establishment through the integration of cadres from ZANLA and ZIPRA and the erstwhile foes, the Rhodesian army.
“However, against all odds, the ZDF was successfully established as a united institution with the single vision of defending Zimbabwe, its independence, people, sovereignty, territorial integrity and natural resources.
“We take particular pride in that the unification of the ZDF is a result of the values and ethos that drove the liberation struggle. Today our people enjoy a united country with institutions that are representative of this unity, irrespective of one’s tribe, ethnicity or region,” he said.
President Mnangagwa applauded the ZDF for the various community development projects they were carrying out in line with their peacetime mandate to embrace development by assisting communities.
Last week, the ZDF conducted its annual week-long community assistance programme, where they showcased their assistance projects in various communities that include maternity wards, clinics and classroom blocks.
“This dovetails with the Second Republic’s quest to realise development which leaves no one and no place behind,” President Mnangagwa said.
“The ZDF also continues to provide invaluable support to civil ministries in their national development objectives. In that regard, the ZDF Construction Regiment is assisting various ministries and departments in constructing and refurbishing critical infrastructure.
“Some of the projects underway include the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe Nuclear Sources Waste Disposal Facility, Bindura University of Science Education Sports Academy and a two storey office complex for the Research Council of Zimbabwe.”
On the international stage, President Mnangagwa said the ZDF continued to fulfil its obligations of contributing to maintenance of peace and stability through bilateral and multilateral engagements.
The ZDF has deployments on peace support operations under the auspices of the African Union and United Nations.
“As a member of SADC, the AU and UN, Zimbabwe remains committed to contributing to international peace and stability and will continue moulding and training the ZDF and other security services to perform well in such deployments.
“In this regard, my Government will ensure that the officers, men and women of the ZDF are continually trained, well equipped, and disciplined, including sending some officers, men and women for training in friendly countries, so that they can effectively respond to potential threats to national security,” President Mnangagwa said.
He welcomed ZDF’s cooperation with friendly countries through military training exchange programmes as well as training assistance offered by allied countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia.
The President said the demining programme to remove landmines which were laid by the Rhodesian Forces to inhibit the movement of freedom fighters across the country’s common borders with Mozambique and Zambia is ongoing.
“It, therefore, follows that with adequate funding and other resources, the country is on course to finish the demining race by December 2025, in line with the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines. I, thus, call upon those in a position to support our programme, to come forward and partner us in this noble programme,” President Mnangagwa said.
And ahead of next year elections, the President reiterated his call for the nation to maintain the stability and peace that is being fostered under the Second Republic, saying the nation should shun violence, disunity, divisions and unrest.