We publish here the speech delivered by President Mnangagwa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to mark the 40th Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day anniversary yesterday.
Members of Parliament; Members of Zimbabwe Defence Forces; Ladies and Gentlemen; Comrades and Friends;
It is my singular honour and privilege to address the nation on this special day which marks the 40th Anniversary of our Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).
The attainment of independence in 1980 signalled the advent of majority rule and the formation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF). The bringing together of ZANLA, ZIPRA forces on one side and the Rhodesian Forces on the other was a daunting and challenging exercise.
I was privileged to chair the Joint Command for the integration of the three forces. Having fought for a united Zimbabwe, the formation of a unified defence force with a single purpose of defending our territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence was indeed gratifying accomplishment.
Today, we celebrate the numerous achievements scored over the last 40 years since the formation of the ZDF.
This occasion is happening on the backdrop of successive accomplishments by our Defence Forces to defend our motherland Zimbabwe from detractors, divisive elements and enemies.
The commemorations which we are holding this year under the theme, “ZDF: Celebrating 40 Years of Excellent Service to the People”, are taking place under yet another wave of aggression manifesting through illegal sanctions, hostile anti-Zimbabwe propaganda, mounted on social media platforms, and other forms of asymmetrical warfare meant to break the unity within our forces.
This has been coupled with the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sadly, the virus has claimed some decorated members of the ZDF family in the name of Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Perrance Shiri, who was a long time Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement and the ZDF Director of Public Relations, Colonel Overson Mugwisi, among others.
May their souls rest in eternal peace.
In executing its constitutional mandate, the ZDF has since its formation acquitted itself with distinction and high professionalism and for this they deserve a big compliment. Zimbabwe has continued to enjoy peace largely attributable to the ZDF’s vigilance, loyalty, commitment and dedication to their constitutional obligation of defending the country and its people.
The resultant peace and tranquillity has provided a great stimulus for socio-economic development over the years.
Whilst maintaining peace in the country, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces continue to participate in regional and international peace keeping missions under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).
Our officers, men and women of the ZDF perform their duties with excellence and unparalleled dedication, as they contribute towards enhancing regional and continental integration.
In September 2019, the ZDF participated in the Ligwalagwala Air Show in Eswatini while preparations for participation in the Russian International Military Games and Special Forces Exercise CHOMELA to be held in the Republic of Botswana are at advanced stages. Their involvement in these international activities exposes our forces to the use of modern military equipment as well as strengthening ties between our forces and allies.
Additionally, memories of Cyclone Idai in 2019 bring to mind the Defence Forces’ significant role in search and rescue operations as well as provision of food and medical assistance to flood victims. They have also helped in restoring the damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and clinics.
All these activities demonstrate the commitment of the Defence Forces to serve the nation and the close relationship that exists between them and the generality of the Zimbabwean population. This rich history of assisting communities is commendable and must continue to be the hallmark of our Defence Forces.
I commend the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for embracing my Government’s Vision of attaining an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
In that regard, the ZDF engineers and artisans are engaged in various construction projects to precipitate development of our communities throughout the country.
Comrades and friends; the National Mine Clearance Unit of the Zimbabwe National Army Engineer Corps is also making significant progress in clearing anti-personnel landmines laid by the Rhodesian Regime during the liberation struggle. These include areas along the Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner Minefield. Government is committed to clearing all landmines across the country to give full meaning to independence, freedom and development for the affected communities.
Co-operating partners, Hazardous Life Support Organisation (HALO) Trust, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) are also progressing well in similar demining operations. Let me take this opportunity to express my Government’s sincere appreciation for the assistance we are getting from these organisations.
I am aware of the sacrificial nature and service ethos of the Defence Forces, however, my administration remains determined to improve the salaries and conditions of service for our forces. Housing, transport and medical facilities among other requirements are being improved in recognition of the role and sacrifices made by our Defence Forces in the conduct of their duties.
Mobility, requisite training equipment and Research and Development needs will be equally funded to ensure the modernisation and improvement of our national defence capabilities.
With regard to the War Veterans Affairs, my Government has resuscitated the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill which has now gone past the second reading stage in Parliament. The passing of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill into Law will repeal the War Veterans Act and the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act and take on board the previously excluded categories of the veterans. I am confident that upon its enactment, most of the welfare issues of veterans of the liberation struggle will be resolved.
Recognising the immense contribution made by veterans of our liberation struggle, I urge them to build on this rich legacy by taking full advantage of the empowerment opportunities availed in all sectors of the economy and the implementation of the devolution policy.
Fellow Zimbabweans; Our battle with Covid-19 pandemic requires discipline, bravery and unity which are embodied in the personalities we are celebrating today. We must be united and fight this invisible enemy together. It is our collective responsibility to protect our nation, our families and our beloved ones.
As responsible citizens, let us all co-operate with our security services, assisted by the ZDF as they enforce our national laws. We commend the ZDF for continuing to be a people’s army, a reputation it has built over the years.
In conclusion, I want to thank you all for joining the entire Zimbabwe Defence Forces family in commemorating this special day, the ZDF 40th Anniversary. Thank you, once again for remaining calm and peaceful in the wake of some misguided calls for violent protests and demonstrations by the opposition elements with support from foreign and civil society supporters and backers.
You have shown your patriotism and love for peace and tranquillity.
To the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, as a nation we take pride in you and we thank you for continuously defending our sovereignty and territorial integrity from all contemporary threats.
Happy 40th Anniversary!
God bless you all.
God bless Zimbabwe.
I thank you.