PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday commissioned 138 successful cadets as junior officers after they completed their regular officer cadet course at the Zimbabwe Military Academy, but urged the academy to revisit recruiting criteria to ensure candidates were of the high standard needed to graduate after 75 dropped out.
The course, the 36th since independence, started with 214 cadets of which 45 were women. But 75 dropped out and one woman cadet died due to illness during the course of training.
The President, who was the reviewing officer, inspected the parade, and also noted compliance of social distancing by the 138 graduating officers.
President Mnangagwa, who is the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said the academy should be innovative and use broader assessment in its selection to avoid loss of life and reduce the number of drop-outs during the course of training.
“I urge the academy to be innovative and revisit its cadet selection criteria by adopting more contemporary and scientific indicators and variables during the selection.
“This should enable the assessment of a broader range of abilities, traits and competencies that attract a higher calibre of cadets as well as minimising the risk and costs of drop-outs,” he said.
He commended the ZDF and the young officers for their sacrifice in the face of the challenging economic situation.
“The course number 3/36/18 was undertaken against the backdrop of challenging economic conditions, characterised by severe drought and the continuing debilitating illegal sanctions. This was worsened by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought about other challenges and realities,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said the military academy should also take advantage of the Zimbabwe National Defence University to produce fine military personnel in the face of growing global military technology.
The President said the cadets should also be inspired by their tour of liberation shrines such as Chimoio in Mozambique and Freedom Camp in Zambia, adding that visits to such historical shines should instil a sense of patriotism in the cadets.
Witnessing the event, and observing social distancing in masks, were Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Phillip Vallerio Sibanda, Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and her deputy Cde Victor Matemadanda, among others.