10 August 2016

Zimbabwe: Our Defence Forces Have Made Us Proud

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Speech by His Excellency the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe, on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day celebrations, National Sports Stadium, 9th August, 2016.Honourable Vice President, Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa and Amai;

Honourable Vice President, Comrade Phelekezela Mphoko and Amai;

Honourable Minister of Defence, Dr. Sydney Sekeramayi;

Honourable Ministers here present;

Members of the Politburo here present;

Secretary for Defence, Comrade Martin Rushwaya;

Commander Defence Forces, General Constantino Chiwenga;

Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda;

Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Marshal Perrance Shiri;

Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Comrade Augustine Chihuri,

Commissioner-General of the Prisons and Correctional Services Major-General Paradzai Zimondi (Retired);

Senior Government officials;

Members of Parliament;

Members of the diplomatic corps;

Invited guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Comrades and friends.

May I warmly welcome you all to the National Sports Stadium where we have assembled to commemorate the Zimbabwe Defence Forces 36th anniversary celebrations.

Since Independence, the Zimbabwean Defence Forces (ZDF) have transformed into a solid entity that has clearly demonstrated its ability to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As we all know, this present united army was born out of the integration of the previously warring forces of Zanla and Zipra on one side, and the Rhodesian Forces on the other.

I need not remind you that the integration of the army, was initially, in an environment that was not only tense but also fraught with mistrust and suspicion.

Thankfully, all that is now history. The ZDF's primarily focus is maintaining the country's peace and tranquillity, and engaging in other numerous peace- time activities.

The forces, for example, timeously intervene in hospitals, when the regular critical staff has gone on strike.

Recently they also have had to rescue villagers marooned by floods in Muzarabani, Tsholotsho and Masvingo.

In recent years of drought, the ZDF have assisted in the effective movement of food relief to Zimbabwe's remote areas.

This year, as part of the Food Security Task Force, they have been found heavily instrumental, as they took the lead in the acquisition and movement of food relief to all the country's 10 provinces.

To date, ZDF have moved more than 10 000 metric tonnes of relief maize. Their involvement in the national food relief vividly reminds us of Operation Maguta, another of ZDF's successful food security initiatives. They indeed deserve the nickname "Mararamisa vanhu", they have since acquired.

Comrades and friends, although the war of liberation ended 36 years ago, our country is still faced with remnants of war in the form of unexploded ordnance.

This is particularly so along our border with Mozambique, where ZDF are involved in the demining operations.

ZDF engineer corps of de-miners carry out this de-mining exercise in Sango Border area, while the Halo Trust Demine in Mukumbura, and the Norwegian People's Aid focus on the Forbes Border area.

In the course of their peace-time duties, the forces also closely cooperate with other arms of Government.

They provide support to the ZRP in guarding the country's key installations such as the Beira Corridor, and in curbing the smuggling of goods at the country's borders.

Occasionally, the ministries of Health, Mining, Agriculture, Local Government, Secondary and Primary Education, among others, have sought, and received support from the forces.

Currently, the ZDF major underway projects include construction of Enala Clinic in Tsholotsho, four classroom blocks at Mapani Park Primary School in Chakari, Chasiyatende Clinic in Masvingo, four teachers' quarters and ablution facilities at Zibomvu in Silobela, among others.

Through the operationalisation of the African Standby Brigade, our defence forces pursue and enjoy the mutual cooperation, interaction and exchange of military skills with neighbouring friendly countries.

The Sadc Special Forces Training Exercise, codenamed Mahombekombe, amply demonstrated such cooperation when, in 2015, it drew participants from Angola, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

Ladies and gentleman, our forces are often deployed in regional and international peace support operations, under the auspices of Sadc, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

Currently, nine officers have been deployed to Darfur, two to Abyei, one in Liberia and one in Ethiopia.

In these cases, our soldiers, without exception, have demonstrated the highest level of discipline. They indeed make us proud.

ZDF is cognisant of the need to continuously review conditions of service of its members. In this regard, the defence forces recently acquired a fleet of troop- carrying vehicles, staff cars and buses, to facilitate the movement of personnel to and from their respective work stations.

In addition, efforts are still underway to provide decent accommodation to members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Benefit Fund.

I wish to conclude by expressing my appreciation of you all, for coming to this commemoration of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

You have indeed amply demonstrated your support for our forces that are dedicated to working with, within, and for the people.

I am encouraged, indeed very pleased, with the symbiotic relationship that exists between our forces and our people and that relationship or cooperation is very welcoming indeed.

May I also commend all the organisers of this event that have worked tirelessly to ensure that the celebrations become a resounding success.

I thank you.

Zimbabwe

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