Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
The Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Philip Valerio Sibanda yesterday officially handed over command of the Zimbabwe National Army to the new Commander Lieutenant-General Edzayi Chakanyuka Chimonyo at One Commando in Harare. General Sibanda had served as commander of ZNA for 13 years.
In a speech during the ceremony, General Sibanda urged Lt-Gen Chimonyo to work hard as he had come at a critical period when the country had begun a new political dispensation in which people had high hopes and expectations for a better future.
“These expectations will not come to fruition if the ZNA and you (Lt-Gen Chimonyo) in general fail to execute your roles as mandated. I should point out that if we are not vigilant these expectations and high hopes among our people may be derailed by those who do not want to see peace and progress in our countries.
“I want to urge all officers, men and women of the ZDF to be wary of social media as it is being used as a vehicle to try to subvert us. Events of the last few months during which increased subtle attacks on the military have been noted attest to this fact. Let us remain very vigilant and adopt a motto that is “it’s not over until it’s over”.
Officiating at the ceremony Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who was also the chief witness of the handover, said the ZNA was a key pillar of the country’s defence and security service whose constitutional mandate was to defend Zimbabwe, its people, its national security interests as well as its independence, sovereignty and national integrity.
He paid tribute to Gen Sibanda for being an illustrious leader during his tenure as ZNA Commander.
“I, therefore, call upon you (Gen Sibanda) to maintain the same vigour, dedication and allegiance in your new assignment as Commander ZDF. To the incoming Commander ZNA, your promotion and appointment was based on distinction and merit as you have shown great visionary leadership as a distinguished liberation fighter, decorated military commander and shrewd ambassador. As you assume a higher and more challenging assignment, I have no doubt that you take a leading role in further developing the ZNA into a reputable, competent professional highly disciplined force,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the ZNA should contribute towards nation building by supporting Government’s socio economic development programmes.
“Indeed, it is your responsibility as defence forces to cultivate and defend the country’s economic interest by supporting civil ministries. Our defence forces are renowned and respected nationally, regionally and internationally for their professional conduct. This can be demonstrated on the number of successful operations they have undertaken in UN peace supporting operations; Mozambique campaign, DRC campaign, which was operation sovereign legitimacy and Operation Restore Legacy recently among others,” he said.
He said the advent of the new political dispensation bestowed the honours on all Zimbabweans to revive the economy by mobilising local and international investments in support of the President’s call that Zimbabwe is open for business.
“As VP I am aware of the challenges you are facing in improving capabilities and requirements to develop the ZDF into the desired formidable entity. I want to assure you that my ministry is fully committed to the task of ensuring your requirements are provided for while conditions of service are regularly reviewed.
“I urge you all to remain firm in your endeavours in building a robust defence force that guarantees the security of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe,” he said.
ZNA Commander Lt-Gen Chimonyo participated in the liberation struggle and has held a number of appointments between 1980 and 2008 at the Brigade, Army and Defence Headquarters before his transfer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he was appointed ambassador to Tanzania until December 2017.
He promised to ensure continued preservation of the country’s security to create a conducive environment for investments and business activities, professional adherence to the ideals and values enshrined in the Constitution.
“I promise that I will work tirelessly to continue maintaining the ZNA as a disciplined, loyal and combat effective force. I, therefore, want to emphasise on the need to provide continued good leadership and man management at all levels of command so as to enhance morale of the rank and file and get the best out of them,” he said.