ZDF pledges to attain a landmine-free Zim by 2025

03 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
ZDF pledges to attain a landmine-free Zim by 2025 Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant-General David Sigauke

The Herald

Talent Chimutambgi Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) have cleared more than 291 square kilometres of landmines, leaving 19,4 square kilometres still to be cleared since the inception of demining operations in a bid to attain a mine-free Zimbabwe by 2025.

Staring defeat by the liberation war fighters, Rhodesian leader Ian Smith’s regime laid minefields along the borders in an unsuccessful effort to prevent the liberation forces from entering Zimbabwe and preventing recruits from going across borders to join the war.

The clearance has been difficult.

Anti-personnel mines tend to be small, and shift easily when it rains, and the triggers of other anti-personnel weapons like the claymore mines can rot and decay.

The minefields were never properly mapped by the Smith regime and so have to be cleared very carefully, one mine at a time.

The ZDF has built on its base in the liberation war of establishing close contact with the people through undertaking key projects for the benefit of the populace.

This year’s ZDF Day celebrations will be conducted throughout the country at all traditional venues, with President Mnangagwa, as the Commander-in-Chief, set to grace the main celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

In an interview at the Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in Harare, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Headquarters, Commander ZNA Lieutenant General David Sigauke said the clearance of the landmines had paved way for critical infrastructural development.

The ZDF collaborated with various organisations to mount the mammoth task so that the vast area of land is properly used to propel an economic renaissance in line with national goals.

“Since the start of the operation, more than 291 square kilometres have been cleared leaving a balance of 19,4 square kilometres in a bid to attain a mine-free Zimbabwe by 2025,” said Lt Gen Sigauke.

“The Zimbabwe National Army engineer artisans are also undertaking demining operations to reclaim land infested by landmines during the liberation struggle for productive purposes like agriculture, mining, tourism, and infrastructure development.

“In this regard, the ZNA has partnered with NGOs: HALO Trust, Norwegian’s People Aid, APOPO, and Mine Advisory Group.”

Lt Gen Sigauke said the ZNA had sustained itself during the illegal embargoes imposed on the country by the Western detractors through research and innovation.

“As we celebrate this significant event, we remain alive to the challenges facing the nation brought about by the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by our erstwhile detractors,” he said.

“In view of that, the Zimbabwe National Army has heavily invested in research and development to reduce the impact of the sanctions on our day-to-day activities so that we continue to guarantee our constitutional mandate of protecting Zimbabwe, its people, its resources, its interests, its national security, and territorial integrity.”

Apart from demining activities, the ZNA combined with other forces in the region to adequately discharge its mandate of ensuring peace and stability.

“Regionally and internationally, the Zimbabwe National Army continues to cooperate with its partners in the SADC, AU, and UN in order to promote peace and stability,” said Lt Gen Sigauke. “Some of the activities to enhance cooperation include bilateral security meetings, coordinated patrols, and regional military exercises.”

Some of the SADC exercises which have been conducted so far are: Exercises Nengosile in Zambia (2012), Exercise Highlander in Lesotho (2013), Exercise Wilwitshia which was conducted in Namibia (2013), Exercise Vale Do Keve in Angola (2014), Exercise Mahombekombe which we hosted in Zimbabwe (2015), Exercise Matumbahwe held in Tanzania (2017), as well as Exercise Umodzi which Malawi hosted in (2018)

“In 2019, the ZNA was training in preparation to participate in Exercise Chomela which was to be in Botswana in 2020, but this was postponed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Lt Gen Sigauke. “We have however resumed training for Exercise Chomela since the Covid-19 pandemic has receded.”

Recently, Major Winnet Zharare, one of the ZNA female officers, was honoured with the United Nations Military Gender Advocate Award for 2021 for exceptional performance during her deployment in South Sudan and she was presented her accolade by the United Nations Secretary-General in New York.

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