Harare — A TOTAL of 229 recruits, 90 percent of them products of the National Youth Service, graduated as aircraftsmen and aircraftswomen from the Air Force of Zimbabwe in Chegutu on Friday.
Speaking at the passout ceremony held at Fylde Air Force Base, AFZ Chief of Staff in charge of Operations, Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo, said the recruitment of National Youth Service graduates into the force was in line with Government policy and would ensure that they are gainfully employed.
"They have been given all sorts of names but today we honoured them and they will be gainfully employed," he said.
The graduands, comprising 182 men and 47 women, completed a six-month military training course which covered conventional warfare, weapons training, field craft and military civic education among other subjects.
Air Vice Marshal Moyo urged them to exercise discipline and uphold the standards of the airforce and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
"You as individuals are expected to be above reproach all the time and exercise the highest standard of discipline," he said.
Military civic education, he said, was meant to orient the trainees with the principles of national security and enhance its ability to defend and preserve national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He warned them against the Aids pandemic, which he described as the most dangerous of all things the graduates would encounter on their return to society after six months of isolation.
Five recruits received awards of excellence in different disciplines.
Libon Maphosa scooped the Best Student Award, Bridget Gwenambira came up as Best Female Shootist and William Majoni won the Best Male Shootist Award.
However, Air Vice Marshal Moyo said the graduates had suffered shortages of equipment during the course owing to the forces limited budgetary resources.
He, however, said the current wave of economic recovery would improve the situation and enhance the efficiency and morale of the forces personnel.
The energetic graduands performed stunning drills including crossing barriers like rivers and walls under simulated enemy fire and marching in oriental fashion as a way of paying tribute to east Asian countries that assisted fighters during the liberation struggle.
The Minister of State for Policy Implementation in the Presidents Office, Cde Webster Shamu, Mashonaland West governor, Cde Nelson Samkange and Chegutu mayor Mr Francis Dhlakama attended ceremony.
Meanwhile, more than 80 members of the Zimbabwe National Army graduated in combat engineering at the Zimbabwe School of Military Engineering at Pomona barracks in Borrowdale last week. The armys director of finance Colonel Levy Mayihlome presented the graduands, who successfully underwent a gruelling six-month course in combat engineering, with certificates.
Col Mayihlome said the training of the troops was in line with the lessons that had been learnt in the DRC campaign.
"I urge you to go to tour units and assist in training of other soldiers in watermanship, crossing skills and various other areas that we were found wanting in the DRC."