Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
VICE President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) yesterday urged the security forces to be vigilant and patriotic as some elements were bent on reversing the gains of independence as the country prepares for harmonised elections set for July 30.
He said they should all work on ensuring that elections were held in a free, fair and credible environment.
VP Chiwenga made the remarks at the graduation ceremony of Junior Staff Course Number 69 held at the Zimbabwe Staff College at Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in Harare.
A total of 40 officers from the Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services as well as four others from Botswana, eSwatini, Tanzania and Zambia graduated.
VP Chiwenga said the defence of this nation and the region must always be entrusted to principled and patriotic officers, endowed with professional integrity gained through such interactive training.
“I therefore urge you to remain vigilant and patriotic as some elements bent on reversing the gains of our independence are always looking for the slightest opportunity to exploit.
“This is particularly so as the country prepares for the 2018 harmonised elections to be held on 30th July 2018. We should all work towards ensuring that the elections are held in a free, fair and credible environment,” he said.
VP Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs, said the ministry was aware of the challenges being faced by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces especially in the area of conditions of services.
He said lack of adequate accommodation and remuneration were areas of great concern.
VP Chiwenga said Government was looking into the concerns and once a viable solution has been found, it would be communicated to them.
He said Government attaches great value to training and education.
VP Chiwenga said investment in professional training and career development activities had over the years seen the ZDF attaining high levels of discipline, loyalty and dedication that has become the envy of many.
“This prestigious status enjoyed by our Defence Forces is the culmination of a long tradition that recognises the importance of training as the foundation of success for our Defence Forces as it endeavours to adequately fulfil its constitutional role of maintaining peace and stability locally, regionally and internationally,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the ZDF successfully participated in the Mozambican Campaign, Peace Support Operations in Somalia and Angola, Operation Sovereign Legitimacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and had current deployments of Military Observers and staff officers in South Sudan, Darfur and Liberia, which all testify to the internationally acceptable professionalism.
He said history had taught them that any military outfit can have modern equipment and greater numerical numbers but without adequately trained and motivated workforce, that military outfit was bound to fail in the accomplishment of its objectives.
VP Chiwenga said contrary to common belief, the Defence Forces were not only there for wars but their constitutional mandate was to provide a conducive environment for socio economic development and national prosperity.
“The professional conduct and dedication to duty by our Defence Forces, which has seen the country enjoy a relatively peaceful environment since the end of the colonial era, is clear testimony of the value our Defence Forces attach to this great nation. The professionalism being cultivated through such training as that which has culminated in today’s graduation has helped the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to establish an amicable and good working relationship with the general populace wherever they are deployed,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the ZDF shares the Sadc’s view on the importance of strong military cooperation as was evidenced by its participation in Sadc Joint Military Training Exercises.
He said the ZDF will continue to participate in military exchange programmes with other Defence Forces in the region.
The ceremony was attended by all service chiefs and senior and junior officers from all security structures.