The Zimbabwe Defence Forces should have a share under Zimbabwe's indigenisation and economic empowerment drive.
The force would do everything in its capacity to ensure that local people benefit from the country's vast natural resources.
Addressing officers attending the Joint Command and Staff Course Number 26 in Harare yesterday on Zimbabwe's defence policy, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said ZDF and indigenisation were intertwined.
"You cannot divorce the role of the ZDF from indigenisation. The law intends to develop people economically and ZDF is there to defend the country's sovereignty and natural resources."
Minister Mnangagwa said in other countries such as China the army was responsible for the development of the economy.
He said the Government of the day would not go before the ordinary person was empowered.
"We are a product of the revolution and before we go we should make sure that we empower our people economically," he said.
Minister Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe should move from the era where foreigners benefit from the country's resources at the expense of locals.
"It is also in the interest of the nation that natural resources benefit the indigenous people more than they do foreigners.
"Cases of locals living in abject poverty when foreign companies are profiteering from resources found within their communities should now be a thing of the past," said Minister Mnangagwa.
He said the ZDF was a strong contender under the country's indigenisation and economic empowerment policy.
"The Zimbabwe Defence Forces as an institution is also a stakeholder in the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy and therefore expects to benefit from national resources and as guarantors of the country's sovereignty and national interests, they have a pivotal role to play in the implementation of the policy."
He said it was in its interest that the country's resources were channelled towards indigenous Zimbabweans.
Minister Mnangagwa said fiscal provisions for ZDF were not enough and the force was devising other ways to sustain its operations and to further the country's economic interests.
In this regard, Minister Mnangagwa said, ZDF was establishing joint ventures with some foreign companies to supplement its budget allocations.
"As a beneficiary of the Government's land reform programme, the ZDF owns a number of farms for its various formations and units, under which it has established a number of joint ventures in order to fully utilise the land at its disposal."
He said the joint ventures were being initiated under the same provisions and conditions of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
Minister Mnangagwa said the ZDF would become self reliant when the joint ventures start to bear fruit.
He said more joint ventures were being mooted in various sectors of the economy.
Minister Mnangwagwa said the ZDF had established joint ventures in mining of coal and methane gas in Gwayi. He said the force had also a small interest in mining of diamonds in Chiadzwa. On Zimbabwe's defence policy, Minister Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe upheld the principles and values of peace as enshrined in the United Nations and African Union charters.
He said Zimbabwe followed a non-aggressive and non-hostile defence policy based on the maintenance of a minimum and credible conventional deterrent capability.
"The ZDF policy prioritises the country's domestic stability and the prevention of external aggression.
"In the interest of non-interference, Zimbabwe champions preventative diplomacy in her interaction with other sovereign states in the event of crises," he said.