ADDRESS by President Mnangagwa during the commemorations of the 42nd Defense Forces Day.
It is a singular honor for me to preside over the 42nd anniversary of Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) Day.
This is the first time since 2019 that we have physically organized these celebrations due to the restrictive measures that my government had to take in order to protect citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our meeting today therefore bears witness to the great strides made by Zimbabwe in the fight against the pandemic.
It should be noted that in addition to government efforts, the Zimbabwe Defense Force, in partnership with other branches of government and partners, has been successful in protecting its members and their dependents from the impact of the pandemic. This has also resulted in the production of personal protective equipment.
These commendable efforts have not only contributed to the successful containment of the virus, but also contributed to the national import substitution program, through which the country has saved significant amounts of foreign exchange. Today we are joined by special delegates from the Botswana Defense Force, including members of their Soccer Select team and traditional dance troupe.
We welcome you to Zimbabwe and especially to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces Day celebrations. Feel at home and help us celebrate the accomplishments of our valiant sons and daughters who serve in the military.
Every year as we gather for this event, I recall the complex process of integrating the cadres of ZANLA and ZIPRA, as well as their erstwhile enemy, the Rhodesian Forces.
However, against all odds, the ZDF was successfully established as a united institution with a single vision to defend Zimbabwe, its independence, its people, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity and its natural resources. We are particularly proud of the fact that the unification of ZDF is the result of the values and ethics that guided the liberation struggle. Today, our people enjoy a united country with institutions representing this unity, regardless of tribe, ethnicity or region.
I commend ZDF for its various community development projects, which are in line with its peacetime mandate to embrace development by extending a helping hand to communities.
As has become the norm, last week the Zimbabwe Defense Force held a week-long Community Assistance Program, during which they showcased their assistance projects in various communities. In this regard, a total of five projects, including maternity wards, clinics and classrooms, have been delivered, and several more are still in various stages of completion. This ties in with the Second Republic’s quest to achieve development that leaves no one or place behind.
The Zimbabwe Defense Force also continues to provide invaluable support to civilian ministries in their national development goals. In this regard, the ZDF Construction Regiment supports various ministries and departments in building and renovating critical infrastructure. Some of the ongoing projects include the Zimbabwe Radiation Shield Authority, Nuclear Source Waste Disposal Facility, Bindura University of Science Education Sports Academy and Office Complex two-storey building for the Zimbabwe Research Council.
The government recognizes the need to continually review the pay and conditions of service of the uniformed forces, alongside those of the rest of the public service.
In order to improve the welfare of ZDF members, the government has reinstated the concept of military pay and is also working to improve the transport and accommodation situation for the defense forces. To date, buses have been provided to ZDF and more will be disbursed in the future.
With regard to the provision of institutional housing, the ZDF is in the process of constructing housing units for its members across the country. During the reporting period, the ZDF Construction Regiment completed 60 dwellings in Dzivarasekwa, with a further 90 in various stages of completion. At Imbizo Barracks, 30 of the 44 unit blocks are under construction and are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
In the same vein, the government has embraced new technologies to speed up housing delivery. A total of 130 blocks of 12 apartments are under construction at Dzivarasekwa and Imbizo Barracks. Meanwhile, construction of an officers’ mess at Jason Ziyapapa Moyo Air Force Base is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Other ongoing projects include the renovation of six ZDF camps, namely; Barracks Charles Gumbo, an air defense artillery regiment, a referral hospital, 1.3 reserve force battalion, 3.1 combat group and 3.3 reserve force battalion. Preparations for the construction of permanent structures at Infantry Battalions 1.3 and 3.3 at Plumtree and Chipinge, respectively, are underway.
The government is also keen to provide ZDF with an efficient healthcare delivery system through the expansion of Manyame Hospital to referral status. The project is now 95% complete.
In addition, my government is implementing a series of measures to build confidence, strengthen demand for the local currency and foster market discipline.
Internationally, the ZDF continues to fulfill its obligations to contribute to international peace and stability through bilateral and multilateral engagements. In this regard, the ZDF is deployed in peace support operations under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations.
As a nation, we do well when it comes to mainstreaming pro-gender policies. It is heartening to note that 55% of the total ZDF contingent deployed in UN missions are women, which far exceeds the 18% requirement set by the UN.
Deployed officers are the pride of the nation due to their outstanding performance during these missions. It was only recently that Major Winnet Zharare was awarded a Commendation Medal and the 2021 United Nations Military Gender Advocate Award. This was in recognition of her exemplary performance while deployed as as a military observer in South Sudan.
As a member of SADC, the AU and the UN, Zimbabwe remains committed to contributing to international peace and stability and will continue to shape and train the ZDF and other security services to perform in such deployments.
In this regard, my government will ensure that ZDF officers, men and women, are continuously trained, well-equipped and disciplined, including by sending certain men and women officers for training in friendly countries, so that they can respond effectively to potential threats to national security.
It was only last week that I officiated at the third graduation ceremony of the National Defense University of Zimbabwe, some of whose courses provided students with the necessary analytical tools through a solid foundation on the strategic concepts of national defense and security.
It is also fortunate that the Zimbabwe Defense Force continues to benefit immensely from cooperation with friendly countries through military training exchange programs as well as training assistance offered by allied countries such as the China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia.
At independence in 1980, Zimbabwe inherited landmines, which were laid by Rhodesian forces to prevent the movement of freedom fighters across our common borders with Mozambique and Zambia.
The government is addressing this issue, and it is commendable that our demining program has been ranked among the top three best-run mine action programs in the world for the past four years.
It therefore follows that with adequate funding and other resources, the country is on track to complete the mine clearance race by December 2025.
The existence of landmines has caused some to fall victim while others have lost their limbs. These victims require attention in the form of rehabilitation, provision of assistive devices and life skills to care for themselves given their disability. Allow me at this point to express my gratitude to all involved for a job well done.
Finally, as we approach the harmonized general elections of 2023, I call on all Zimbabweans to be vigilant and maintain the stable and peaceful environment that is fostered under the Second Republic. Say no to violence, disunity, divisions and unrest.
With these remarks, allow me to thank all those who decided to respond positively to our invitation to honor the 42nd anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces Day celebrations. We greatly appreciate your support as we move forward with rebuilding our country in accordance with the philosophy of “Nyika inovakwa nevenevayo / ilizwe liyakhwa ngabanikazi balo”.
I wish you all happy celebrations of the 42nd Zimbabwe National Defense Force Day!
Long live our Defense Forces.
Long live Zimbabwe.
Long live our freedom.
God bless you.
God bless Zimbabwe.
I thank you.