‘ Army ready for any threat’
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.