15 September 2012

Zimbabwe: President Officially Opens National Defence College

THE negative publicity Zimbabwe has received from Western media and the volatile global political and economic environment have served as wake-up calls and warnings to enhance its security consciousness to survive such assaults, President Mugabe has said.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces made the remarks while commissioning the National Defence College in Harare yesterday.

"The current polarisation of small states and societies, including Zimbabwe, through the adverse and rabid effects of globalisation which seek to impose a new world order under the auspices of neo-liberalism calls us to remain vigilant and alert to the enemy's tactics."

The President said Western powers had resorted to using illegal economic sanctions and deliberate manipulation of media resources as tools against weaker states in attempts to reinstate the colonial status quo.

"We in Zimbabwe have received first-hand experience of the West's hate-filled tactics, dating back to the year 2000.

"At the height of the economic crisis in 2008-2009, Zimbabweans temporarily adopted an alien culture of drawing knives against each other as unusual fights between brothers, sisters, uncles, nieces, husbands and wives became a common phenomenon. This explosion of negative forces and the generous sponsorship they received sought to effect regime change through civil disobedience.

"Indeed, the neo-colonial adventurism went to the extent of seeking a military invasion of Zimbabwe," President Mugabe said.

He said the establishment of the NDC was a result of the obtaining global security environment.

"Thus a strategic decision was taken by the Government in 2004 to establish an institution to conduct training on the formulation of a comprehensive national security strategy under the ambit of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. It is this strategic decision that culminated in the establishment of the National Defence College," he said.

President Mugabe hoped the establishment of the NDC would "transform the minds of those who may still not understand our situation and enable them now to view national problems with a common vision".

He added that the NDC's establishment was driven by the realisation that non-traditional threats to national security could be addressed through deliberate training programmes involving a cross-section of stakeholders.

"More specifically, the theme that preoccupies any National Defence College is that of national security aptly defined as 'defence against challenges to a nation's vital interests'. In this regard, both military and civilian officials share the same platform availed by the National Defence College to study national security," President Mugabe said.

The NDC, which enrolled students this month, will serve as the premier defence education centre imparting knowledge on national security and defence to selected senior military officers and civilians from various segments of society.

It will act as a thinktank providing research on military, defence and national security for the National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence and other Government departments.

Views of stakeholders are incorporated through seminars and workshops.

Studies at the NDC would enhance and widen participants' comprehension of the role of Zimbabwe's foreign policy in promoting national interests and security while providing understanding of instruments of national power.

Enrolment at the NDC is not open to everyone but to officers with the rank of colonel or group captain and above in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and their equivalent ranks in other security services of the State like the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prison Services and State security.

Senior managers at the level of directors and above in Government ministries as well as managing directors or senior managers in the parastatal and private sector community are eligible for enrolment on invitation.

Selected Sadc and friendly countries would also be invited to subscribe to each course.

The inclusion of civilians, defence and security officers from other countries was designed to ensure maximum interaction and cross fertilisation of ideas by senior officials from varied backgrounds.

Teaching at the NDC started about a fortnight ago and the college is offering two courses, the National Defence Course and the Master of Science in International Studies.

The parallel and complementary Master of Science in International Studies is a semesterised academic programme run over a period of 18 months.

The NDC is affiliated to the University of Zimbabwe in a relationship that is meant to ensure proper nurturing of the NDC into a full-fledged university by 2015.

The relationship is purely academic and the UZ is not involved in the day to day administration and politics of the NDC.

"In keeping with international standards and norms, the National Defence College has sought and continues to seek international co-operating partners. Pakistan and the People's Republic of China have therefore been identified as partners for the National Defence College," President Mugabe said.

He said two senior highly-qualified and experienced officers from cooperating partners were already in the country assisting with instruction at the NDC.

Anhui Foreign and Economic Construction Company of China built the state-of-the-art college and the Chinese Government donated Information Communication Technology equipment, buses and an ambulance to the college.

President Mugabe said the Chinese assistance was evidence of the strong bond of friendship that exists between the two countries traceable to the liberation war.

Construction of the college began in 2010 and was completed earlier than the anticipated date (2013).

Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said the establishment of the NDC would buttress Zimbabwe's prominence in international politics, especially after the country successfully embarked on the land reform programme, which earned it both enemies and sympathisers.

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