Full text of President Robert Mugabe’s speech to mark Defence Forces Day delivered at the National; Sports Stadium on August 14, 2012:
Honourable Vice-President, Comrade Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru,
Honourable Vice-President, Comrade John Landa Nkomo,
Honourable Prime Minister, Mr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai,
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Authur Mutambara and Mrs Mutambara,
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Thokozani Khupe,
Honourable President of the Senate, Comrade Edna Madzongwe,
Honourable Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Lovemore Moyo,
Honourable Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku,
Honourable Minister of Defence, Comrade Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa,
Honourable Ministers here present,
His Worship the Mayor of Harare, Mr Muchadeyi Masunda,
Secretary for Defence, Comrade Martin Rushwaya,
The Provincial Administrator for Harare Metropolitan Province, Comrade Alfred Tome,
Commander Defence Forces, General Constantine Guveya Chiwenga,
Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda,
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri,
Commissioner General of Police, Comrade Augustine Chihuri,
Commissioner of Prisons, Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi,
Members of the Politburo and National Executive Councils here present,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Detainees and Restrictees,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and Friends.
It is indeed with great pleasure and delight that I join the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the celebrations of their 32nd anniversary as the trusted pillar and cornerstone of the nation’s defence.
We are celebrating as a proud country, 32 years of defence excellence since the formation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. The forces stand a cut above the rest as they continue to excel in the defence of our national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests.
The defence of our national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests is the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ constitutional mandate and as one of the important pillars of our national security, they have over the years successfully discharged this responsibility.
The formation of the defence forces in 1980, through the integration of the three formally warring parties of Zanla, Zipra and the Rhodesian Army was a landmark development, which has paid off handsomely through the relevant peace that we have enjoyed throughout the 32 years of our national independence.
It is in recognition of the achievement of this seemingly impossible task of bringing together three previously warring parties into a single entity, with a shared vision and unity of purpose that the country celebrates the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day every year during the second week of the month of August.
Yesterday, I referred to this day as one of those that stand out prominently on our calendar of events every year.
As we celebrate the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day, it is imperative that we reflect on their distinguished achievements over the last 32 years. This is particularly so considering the fact that the definition of national security has over the past years evolved from the traditional focus on defence against would-be aggressors to a growing emphasis on the subtle threats to the quality of life of the country’s citizens.
The imposition of illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe by Britain, the European Union and their American allies is one such move that has sought to compromise the living standards of the people of Zimbabwe and subsequently destabilise the country.
It is common knowledge that the imposition of sanctions on us was meant to induce the people to revolt against their legitimately elected Government and thus effect regime change in this country.
However, these sinister manoeuvres were successfully resisted thanks to the combined effort, grit and resilience of the people of Zimbabwe, the defence forces, other law enforcement agencies and the country’s political leadership.
Recent developments in this country have pointed to other countries having direct interest in the control of our natural resources as demonstrated by detractors’ shameless and spirited efforts to influence the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme in the sale of Zimbabwean diamonds.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces, in conjunction with other national security organs, have a responsibility to institute effective responsive solutions to such unjustified and provocative manoeuvres in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
I am heartened to note that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have, to date, been an active agent in coming up with reliable defence mechanisms in this regard. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have continued to collaborate with the Zimbabwe Republic Police in patrolling the country’s border areas in curbing illegal border crossing as well as other illicit practices such as smuggling of goods into and out of the country.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have also provided similar support at the Chiadzwa Diamond Fields that were once a hive of chaotic panning and trading activities. I am heartened to note that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have over the years continued to be involved in the humanitarian work of removing anti-personnel landmines that were planted along our borders with Zambia and Mozambique.
These mines were planted by the brutal and ruthless Ian Smith regime at the height of the liberation struggle as a way of inhibiting the movement into and out of the country by our liberation fighters.
Today marks 32 years after the hostilities ended and yet we still have the dangerous weapons indiscriminately wreaking havoc on civilian populations, their livestock as well as wild life in the vicinity of the mine fields.
Regrettably, progress in this exercise has been limited because of inadequate resources as the demining process is a very slow and expensive process. International law surprisingly puts the responsibility of removing the landmines on the governments of the affected countries instead of punishing those responsible for planting them.
Through this unfair decision, we are expected to fund the demining exercise while at the same time overseeing the development for the nation.
While support in this area was briefly extended to us by the American government and the European Union in the late 1990s, it was quickly withdrawn soon after the turn of the century when the two, together with their British counterparts, imposed sanctions on us in protest over our land reform programme.
Since then, the programme has been squarely the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Engineer Corps, who are currently deployed at the Sango Border Post to Crook’s Corner minefield.
Recent developments in the area of demining have seen the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) coming in to assist the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Engineer Corps by training their deminers as well as providing them with modern demining equipment that will further boost their demining capacity.
We sincerely welcome this assistance and urge the ICRC to consider doing more in this highly deserving humanitarian issue.
Military assistance to civil communities has continued to be one of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ peacetime responsibilities and this has seen the Zimbabwe Defence Forces deploying helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to various areas for search and rescue as well as casualty evacuation operations.
In December last year, for example, the Defence Forces deployed an aircraft to airlift victims of a traffic accident from Headlands to Harare while a CASA 212 aircraft and medical personnel were deployed to air lift victims of the Ngundu bus disaster in April 2012.
During the same month, the defence forces undertook rescue operations for marooned villagers and fishermen along the Save and Mutirikwi rivers. Military assistance to civil communities has also seen the Zimbabwe Defence Forces embark on the rehabilitation of the Tangwena Road in Nyanga, which is expected to lead to the development of that area and boost it contributions to national development as the area becomes more accessible.
Community assistance has been the tradition of the Zimbabwean Defence Forces during peacetime and recently the forces identified needy areas in the education field where they donated furniture and assisted in the construction of classroom blocks, an administration block, school staff accommodation and blocks of Blair toilets at Mazunga Primary School in Matepatepa and Murongwe Primary School in Dande, Mt Darwin, respectively.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces is a progressive organisation that, like all others, is susceptible to negative factors such as retirements, resignations, desertions and death. All these factors have a direct bearing on the staffing levels of the organisation as they create gaps and vacancies within their rank and file of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
As a result, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces regularly embarks on recruitment exercises and subsequent training programmes for patriotic young men and women who demonstrate eagerness to defend the country as a way of filling the vacancies.
In addition to the training of recruits, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces also continues to upgrade the qualifications of its personnel through training at its various training establishments around the country.
They have also engaged in exchange training programmes with friendly countries in arrangements that have seen a number of foreign military officers enrolling at our military training institutions while the Zimbabwe Defence Forces also had its members enrolling on training programmes in other countries.
In this regard, the Zimbabwe Staff College hosted students from Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia, among other countries, while the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has members studying in China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia.
Other training establishments in the country are also training students from the Namibia Defence Forces in addition to the instructor team seconded to the Republic of Namibia since April 2011.
The instructor team is assisting the Namibia Defence Forces in running a number of courses such as the Regular Officer Cadet Course, Platoon Commanders’ Course, Junior Staff Course and Signals Course, among others.
Emphasis on training remains the focus of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces as it seeks to enhance its capability to adequately defend Zimbabwe.
In this regard, a number of Zimbabwe Defence Forces members were sponsored to pursue studies with various institutions. This was also buttressed by other programmes carried out by the Zimbabwe Staff College.
This institution of military excellence was granted affiliate status by the University of Zimbabwe in 1999 and, since then, more than 400 officers have acquired degrees and diplomas from the Zimbabwe Staff College.
Those who have followed developments in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces are aware of the National Defence College that has been constructed along Mazowe Road. This is a defence university in the making that is soon going to open its doors to senior military and civilian officers for further training.
There are plans to introduce a number of security-related courses for both the military and the civilian authorities as it becomes apparent that social ills such as poverty and shortage of public services deserve the same weighted consideration as invading armies because of their high propensity to the destabilisation of the country.
On the international scene, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces participated in regional and international peacekeeping and peace support training exercises in fulfilment of its obligation of contributing towards the maintenance of international peace and security.
In this regard the Zimbabwe Defence Forces participated in Exercises Blue Cluster in South Africa and Nongosile in Zambia under the auspices of SADC and the African Union.
In the same vein the Zimbabwe Defence Forces continued to contribute military observers and staff officers to UN peace-keeping missions in Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ethiopia and Syria.
Conditions of service for the defence forces remain an important and critical aspect that continues to be reviewed as and when resources become available. It is in this regard that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commanders in conjunction with the Defence Forces Service Commission continue to explore various ways of improving the conditions of service of the members and have since approved the payment of Military Salary Concept and X-Factor allowances.
However, the payment of the allowances has not commenced as yet owing to the scarcity of resources. It is our hope that these will be paid once the resources become available.
Efforts are under way to house all members in institutional accommodation. A housing project has therefore been established at Dzivaresekwa where 40 housing units have already been completed and occupied while 20 others are at the completion stage.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces intends to complete the first phase of 102 housing units before the end of this year. However, shortage of funds and the delays by Treasury in releasing the allocated targets have negatively impacted on progress in this project.
While institutional accommodation is availed to members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the organisation is not oblivious to the fact that such accommodation is never the members’ personal property as they will be expected to vacate it once they retire or reach pensionable age.
The need for members to have their own houses is therefore an absolute imperative. In this regard, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Benefit Fund was introduced to assist members to secure stands or houses in the various towns and cities of their choice. To date, the fund has assisted thousands of members and is still in the process of acquiring more land to develop for the Zimbabwe Defence Forces members.
As I conclude my address today, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to take this opportunity to appeal to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, other security organisations and all progressive Zimbabweans to remain focused, loyal and patriotic to the noble spirit of jealously defending Zimbabwe and its rich natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
We should join hands to resist the unjustified plunder of our resources by undeserving foreign forces that come to us like friends in the name of democracy and globalisation, yet they harbour sinister and ulterior motives.
May I also take this opportunity to thank you all for joining us in celebrating the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day.
You are indeed special people to us and we greatly value your support in this and other defence endeavours. My wish as the Commander-in-Chief is that you continue to support us as we explore other ways of adequately defending the country to enable all Zimbabweans and the business community to engage in economic development initiatives without any disturbance.
I thank you once again and may I wish you greater success as you contribute towards building Zimbabwe.
Happy 32nd birthday to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces!
I thank you.