Felex Share Senior Reporter
President Mugabe yesterday officially handed over the title deeds and a symbolic key of the Sadc Regional Peace Training Centre to the regional bloc’s executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, making it a full-fledged Sadc institution. Zimbabwe donated the premises to house the training centre that was set up in 1996 and operated as an independent entity before becoming a Sadc institution in 2005.
The Harare based institution specialises in training military, police and civilian personnel mainly from the Sadc region who assist in the achievement of sustainable peace, stability and development in the region.
President Mugabe said the handover formality had been “long overdue”.
“As you are aware the RPTC was born out of a realisation by Sadc countries that peace and security are pivotal to the socio economic development of the region and uplifting of the lives of our people?” he asked.
“Its history can be traced back to the 1990s when Zimbabwe was assigned the responsibility by Sadc to spearhead peace support training with the aim of harmonising standards in peace training in the region.”
President Mugabe said the training centre had developed into a beacon of knowledge in conflict prevention and management, facilitating Sadc’s active participation in African Union and United Nations peace support operations.
“I would also like to applaud the centre for playing a key role in the implementation of the Sadc Standby Force in leading the organisation in all major peacekeeping exercises conducted in the region,” President Mugabe said.
“These include the Blue Hungwe in Zimbabwe, the Blue Crane and Golfinho in South Africa, the Tanzanite in Tanzania and Thokghamo in Botswana.”
In her acceptance speech, Dr Tax said the generous donation by Zimbabwe showed the degree of commitment the country had to regional co-operation and the integration agenda.
“Following active participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operations in the early 1990s, Sadc member states realised the need to have a harmonised and coordinated peacekeeping training mechanism within the region,” she said.
“Zimbabwe announced its intentions to establish a peacekeeping training centre, which was established in 1995. In February 2005, the Sadc Council of Ministers meeting, which was held in Mauritius officially established the RPTC as a Sadc Centre.”
She said the RPTC activities were mainly funded by Sadc member states, showing the region’s commitment to peace and stability.
Dr Tax said resources were being mobilised for Sadc to fully utilise the 16 acres of land at the RPTC in St Lucia Park, Harare.