Talent Chimutambgi and Columbus Mabika
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) has over the past five years built at least 100 new schools and clinics for communities countrywide as it helps provide infrastructure needed to transform lives in line with the Second Republic’s Vision 2030.
Bridges and roads were also constructed by military artisans during the five years.
Every year, the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe provide expertise and the necessary labour for infrastructure development in communities.
The results are handed over to communities during the ZDF Community Assistance Week, which comes just before the Defence Forces Day, which is next week.
This week is most critical to the ZDF as they visit groups identifying people in need and extending a helping hand ahead of the celebrations set for next week Tuesday.
In an interview, Commander ZDF General Valerio Sibanda said it was part of the ZDF’s social responsibility and initiative to be involved in uplifting underprivileged communities which dovetails with President Mnangagwa’s call for leaving no one and no place behind.
“Apart from ensuring peace and security, the ZDF also provide assistance to communities through community assistance projects, disaster management and assistance to civil ministries as was witnessed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said General Sibanda.
“The ZDF is a creation of the people of Zimbabwe and its members are recruited from the general populace. This implies that the ZDF is the peoples’ defence force and a defender and protector of the people of Zimbabwe. In this regard, there is always a symbiotic relationship between the ZDF and the general populace,” he said.
“During the course of the year the ZDF carries out community assistance projects in communities around the country. These projects would then be handed over to the concerned communities during the ZDF Community Assistance Week,” said General Sibanda.
This includes construction of schools’ staff houses, clinics, and repair of roads, among others.
Recent work saw the construction of a maternity ward at Mberengwa, classroom blocks at Sipepa Primary School in Tsholotsho, Chakadini clinic in Mahusekwa, two blocks of two classrooms each at Mundoga Primary School in Marondera and at St Albans school in Buhera, Watershed, Manorks and Manyoroka primary schools.
The ZDF were not deterred by the advent of the Covid-19 as it affected the whole world and claimed the lives of many people. They did not want to breach their peacetime mandate though it was war against the pandemic.
During this difficult period, they handed over work that included the construction of Mayfair bridge in Insiza, Early Childhood Block at Sally Mugabe in Kwekwe, two classroom blocks at Musamvu in Chimanimani, a laboratory in Zaka, two lecture room blocks at Church Reformed University in Masvingo as well as the girl’s dormitory in Hauna at Nyatsanza and a hall and ablution facilities in Rusape.
The rebuilding of homesteads in Goromonzi also spearheaded by the Air Force of Zimbabwe and Nerowe Clinic in Chiredzi and many other rescue missions in flooded areas.
As a norm, among the completed projects, some were selected as star projects and were handed over during the ZDF Community Assistance Week which ends on Monday.
Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant General David Sigauke recently said apart from protecting the people, ZDF had a social responsibility function.
“With regards to military assistance to civil communities, the ZNA has contributed to infrastructural development by undertaking several construction projects throughout the country mainly targeting disadvantaged communities.
“The projects include the construction of schools’ staff houses, clinics, and repair of roads, among others.
“These community assistance projects have significantly improved the livelihoods of our people throughout the country, thereby fostering cohesion and unity of purpose which is consistent with the vision of His Excellency, The President and Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa for achieving an upper middle-income society by 2030.
“Some of the completed projects in the provinces include a maternity wards in Mberengwa, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chinhoyi peri-urban, as well as Neromwe Clinic in Chiredzi which was championed by the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Mandoga Primary School classroom blocks in Marondera and Siphepa Primary School Classroom Blocks in Tsholotsho.
“There is also Watershed Primary School classroom block in Bulilima, Chakadini Clinic in Mahusekwa, St Albans Primary School classroom block in Buhera, as well as the rebuilding of homesteads in Goromonzi also spearheaded by the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Monyoroka Primary School classroom blocks in Chiredzi, among others,” he said.
Commander AFZ Air Marshal Elson Moyo said the defence forces members were part of the community and they have a role to play in development projects.
“The notion of fish and water, although going back hundreds of years, is still equally true. The soldiers can only perform better if they are harmoniously existing with their communities.
“It is also part of the ZDF peacetime mandate to embrace development in the country by extending a helping hand to communities.
“The community assistance projects by the AFZ are complimented by charity projects that we undertake under the umbrella of the Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe charity fund.
“The fund was established to mobilise resources to assist the less privileged people and communities in Zimbabwe.
“The combined efforts by the AFZ community assistance initiatives and the charity fund projects have ensured that we reach out to as many needy people and communities as possible in Zimbabwe, in identifying the deserving people and communities,” he said.
Yesterday, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri handed over the maternity ward at Mberengwa District Hospital built by ZDF to the community.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the projects were life-changing in line with President Mnangagwa’s vision of attaining an upper-middle income economy by 2030.
“These community assistance projects have significantly improved the livelihoods of our people throughout the country thereby fostering cohesion and unity of purpose which is consistent with the vision of His Excellency, the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa, for achieving an upper middle income society by 2030,” she said.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the ZDF was a major participant in the success of the National Development Strategy 1 both through the projects they are engaged in and ensuring there is peace and stability in the country.
“A peaceful environment will allow economic development to take place unhindered in line with Vision 2030.”
ZDF had collaborated with other security organs in operations and rescue missions.
“ZDF, therefore, remains alert to give an early response upon disaster occurrences throughout the country like the cyclone we had in Chimanimani.”
“With regards to disaster management and relief operations, the ZDF in conjunction with the Civil Protection Unit and other Government departments has been involved in search and rescue operations in perennially flood-prone areas such as Gokwe, Tsholotsho, Muzarabani areas, and Chiredzi lowveld, among others,” said Minister Muchinguri- Kashiri
The ZDF, was determined to ensure that they discharge their mandate of embracing a pacified nation to full capacity through training and specialised research.