The Herald (Harare)

29 May 2012

Zimbabwe: ZNA Trains Officers for Syrian Peacekeeping Mission

Kwekwe — The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have started training officers and troops for deployment to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Syria. In an interview on the sidelines of the peace support training

exercise at Battlefields here yesterday, ZNA Chief of Staff Administration Major General Trust Mugoba, said peace support operations are critical as they give troops an advantage when uprisings such as those in North Africa occur.

"As you know last week during the commemorations of United Nations peacekeepers day Minister of Defence Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa said

Zimbabwe has been invited to take part in Syrian peacekeeping mission thus we have already started training.

"Zimbabwe National Army, Air force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe Prison Service are part of the international United Nations peacekeeping community.

"The lead formation in terms of peacekeeping is 5 Brigade thus we have strategically chosen Battlefields as the best training ground. The observers to Syria are being trained during this exercise that we are carrying out.

"As required by the African Union and United Nations, we must maintain a certain acceptable standard of troop readiness. We maintain a list of trained personnel that we declare to the UN so that whenever we are called upon we would be having the personnel," he said.

Maj Gen Mugoba said the ZDF have vast of experience in peacekeeping after having been involved in peace missions around the world.

"We are also part of the Sadc standby brigade where we need to be ready.

"The forces for the brigade are domiciled in various Sadc countries. The Sadc brigade, which was started in 2007 in Zambia saw countries sending troops so it is already in place.

"The brigade will be having 4 battalions but the actual number of troops will depend on the size of the mission that will have arisen. As ZDF our commitment to international peacekeeping missions is unquestionable," he added.

Turning to the training programme, he said the ZDF decided to bring various speakers to the training exercise because of the need to have knowledgeable 'gurus' in the aspects of peacekeeping.

"We rather prevent conflicts than to wait and act against one that would have arisen," he said.

Maj Gen Mugoba said Libya was failed by the UN; the weaknesses of the AU and abuse of power in the UN Security Council.

He said ZDF officers needed to know that so that when faced with similar circumstances they would know which route to take.

"As we train let us be mindful of the various conflicts that continue to embarrass our continents today, think of the Libyan, Syrian, Mali, Egypt, Sudan and DRC.

"We should interrogate the causes behind these uprisings.

"These creations by big powers for regime change purposes should be worrisome, as you undergo this peace support seminar be very attentive so that you do not miss important aspects and be able to contribute meaningfully to our region," he added.

Some of the presenters who will give lectures to participants include Prof Jonathan Moyo, Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Ambassador Joey Bimha, Rtd Major Anyway Mutambudzi and Red Cross officials among others.

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