President heaps praise on defence forces
PRESIDENT Mugabe has hailed the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for their role in protecting the country and offering social services to critical sectors.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said the force had transformed itself into a solid entity that demonstrated an ability to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Mugabe said this when he addressed the nation during the 36th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday.
He expressed satisfaction with the integration of Zanla and Zipra forces on one side and the Rhodesian Forces on the other, after the country gained Independence in 1980 despite there having been mistrust initially.
“The ZDF’s primary focus is maintaining the country’s peace and tranquility and engaging in other numerous peace time activities,” said President Mugabe.
“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, 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,” said the President.
President Mugabe said to date, the ZDF has moved more than ten thousand tonnes of relief maize.
He said while the war of liberation ended 36 years ago, Zimbabwe still faced remnants of the war such as unexploded mines particularly along the country’s borders with Mozambique, in Sango Border area and Forbes Border area where the ZDF’s focus is on carrying out de-mining exercises.
President Mugabe said the ZDF had also worked closely with other Government ministries and departments in the course of their peace-time duties.
“Currently, ZDF major underway projects include the 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,” said the President.
He said through the operationalisation of the African Standby Brigade, the ZDF pursued and enjoyed mutual cooperation, interaction and exchange of military skills with neighbouring friendly countries.
President Mugabe said the Sadc Special Forces Training Exercise, code-named “Mahombekombe” amply demonstrated such cooperation when it drew participants from countries in the region - Angola, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia last year.
He said the ZDF’s personnel was often deployed in regional and international Peace Support Operations under the auspices of Sadc, the African Union and the United Nations where they have demonstrated the highest level of discipline, which has made the country 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,” said the President.