‘ Army ready for any threat’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Felex Share Harare Bu­reau

COM­MAN­DER of the Zim­babwe National Army Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Philip Va­le­rio Sibanda yes­ter­day said the army was ready to deal with mal­con­tents and the coun­try’s de­trac­tors us­ing elec­tronic gad­gets to mo­bilise peo­ple to do un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties.

In an in­ter­view ahead of the 36th Zim­babwe De­fence Forces Day com­mem­o­ra­tions on Tues­day, Lt Gen­eral Sibanda said in­sur­gent groups were now re­sort­ing to cy­ber war­fare hence the need for the coun­try’s se­cu­rity sec­tor to in­crease alert­ness.

His re­marks come in the wake of at­tempts in the past weeks by West­ern funded shad­owy groups to desta­bilise the coun­try by post­ing in­flam­ma­tory mes­sages on so­cial me­dia.

West­ern em­bassies prin­ci­pally the United States, Bri­tain and France have been im­pli­cated as spon­sors of the vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions.

“We are al­ready deal­ing with these threats,” Lt Gen­eral Sibanda said.

“As an army, at our in­sti­tu­tions of train­ing, we are train­ing our of­fi­cers to be able to deal with this new threat we call cy­ber war­fare where weapons — not nec­es­sar­ily guns but ba­si­cally in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy — are be­ing used to mo­bilise peo­ple to do the wrong things. We will be equal to the task when the time comes. The most im­por­tant func­tion, as out­lined in the Con­sti­tu­tion is to pro­tect Zim­babwe, its peo­ple, national se­cu­rity, ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Lt Gen­eral Sibanda said the army had a num­ber of sub­sidiary tasks and was con­stantly train­ing and pre­par­ing it­self for any even­tu­al­ity.

“To deal with the im­por­tant task of pro­tect­ing Zim­babwe, we have to or­gan­ise and train the army,” he said.

“We do not train or or­gan­ise when there is war go­ing on. We pre­pare and plan for wars be­fore they hap­pen. The ma­jor task we are un­der­tak­ing now is that of train­ing and pre­par­ing the army for what­ever even­tu­al­ity the coun­try might face.”

On threats posed by Mozam­bique’s rebel move­ment, Re­n­amo, Lt Gen­eral Sibanda said for now there was no army de­ploy­ment into the neigh­bour­ing coun­try but only bor­der con­trol op­er­a­tions.

“We are not un­der­tak­ing any spe­cific op­er­a­tions against Re­n­amo but we con­tinue with bor­der con­trol op­er­a­tions and in the process mon­i­tor what is hap­pen­ing on our bor­ders with Mozam­bique and those coun­tries neigh­bour­ing us,” he said.

“This is part of our sup­port to civil power. On plans to de­ploy, (De­fence) Min­is­ter (Syd­ney Sek­era­mayi) and Zim­babwe De­fence Forces Com­man­der (Gen­eral Con­stantino Chi­wenga) have made pro­nounce­ments on the sit­u­a­tion in Mozam­bique and our stance suf­fice to say we con­tinue to mon­i­tor that sit­u­a­tion and pre­pare our­selves in the event that Re­n­amo crosses the bor­der. We will cer­tainly be in a po­si­tion to deal with that sit­u­a­tion.”

On the fu­ture of the ZNA, he said: “I would like to see an army that is well pro­vided for that is in terms of per­sonal kit for the troops, equip­ment for them to undertake their tasks. I would like to see an army that is more ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient than we are right now, an army re­spected by both friend and foe.”

Lt Gen­eral Sibanda said the ZNA would con­tinue with com­mu­nity as­sis­tance pro­grammes with a num­ber of projects be­ing com­mis­sioned this year.

He said re­sources re­mained a chal­lenge in the face of the eco­nomic sanc­tions regime the coun­try is grap­pling with.

“We are do­ing quite well con­sid­er­ing the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

“This year we have in the re­gion of about 22 projects that are be­ing handed over dur­ing the course of this week. We have an­other 25 to be handed over be­tween end of Au­gust and be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber. I need to say that we are also happy with the sup­port we are get­ting from the cor­po­rate world and com­mu­ni­ties. Some of these com­mu­nity projects are in part­ner­ship with some cor­po­rate en­ti­ties like CBZ and FBC. Oth­ers are com­ing on board,” he said.

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