Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe yesterday paid tribute to the country’s security services for their contribution towards the maintenance of a conducive and peaceful environment that has promoted the country’s economic growth. He was speaking at the 2016 edition of the President’s Medal Shoot at Cleveland Rifle Range in Harare. The event ran under the theme “Nurturing Skills and Arms for the Resolute Defence of the Constitution and National Sovereignty for Social and Economic Growth”.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Chief Prison Officer Sarah Sebata and ZNA Four Brigade’s Corporal John Dzovani were the outstanding shottists. President Mugabe said Zimbabwe continued to be a safe destination for investors and tourists due to the peace and stability that the security forces have managed to uphold since independence.
“As a sovereign nation, such a peaceful environment is a prerequisite for our successful implementation of various programmes in pursuit of achieving the aims and objectives of Zim-Asset, our economic blueprint,” he said.
He applauded the organisers of the shooting competition for creating an environment for civilians to interact with the security forces, thereby cultivating and promoting cordial co-existence between the security forces and civilians.
“In essence, shooting is a competitive sport involving tests of speed and accuracy, hence there is the need for demonstration of high levels of proficiency. “As such and in line with this year’s theme, it is my fervent hope that competitions of this nature as well as intra- and inter-service competitions will continue to nurture and fine-tune security forces’ shooting skills,” he said.
President Mugabe encouraged the shottists to compete regionally and internationally. “Considering the number of shottists that have reached the final stage of the competition and the participants who fell by the wayside during the elimination stages, one wonders why we do not have as a nation, shottists who compete in international competitions, especially given that Zimbabwe is one of the 15 countries which are affiliated to the International Shooting Sport Federation.
“I would like to challenge the relevant ministries and national associations to make deliberate efforts to develop shooting as a vibrant sport so that we are able to compete both regionally and internationally,” he said. He said the President’s Medal Shoot had over the years grown in leaps and bounds with stiff competition and excellent shooting skills witnessed each year.
The shooting competition is not dominated by any particular service, club or individual. The prizes are also evenly distributed among the competitors. “I am also informed that the same is true of the competitions and shooting galas, which were held as a build-up to the President’s Medal Shoot,” he said.
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Marshal Perrance Shiri said the uniformed forces were founded on discipline and high marksmanship skills. “Shooting competitions stand out as deliberate steps taken to nurture skills at arms and enhance discipline so that our officers and members effectively play their roles in ensuring that Zimbabwe continues to enjoy peace and tranquillity,” he said.
The function was attended by senior Government officials, service chiefs and other members of the uniformed forces, among others. The AFZ gave President Mugabe an honorary shooting award. Minister of Defence Sydney Sekeramayi, Commander Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga and Air Marshal Shiri also received honorary awards.