President Robert Mugabe & First Lady Grace during Zimbabwe Hero's Day Celebrations in 2006. The SADC has called for the lifting of western sanctions against the ZANU-PF government.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
By Itai Musengeyi
President Mugabe yesterday warned businesses increasing prices of goods to cause people to revolt that the welfare of Zimbabweans and security of the country were top priorities for Government.
Speaking at commemorations to mark Defence Forces Day at Rufaro Stadium in Harare, Cde Mugabe said the recent unprecedented increases in the prices of basic goods were meant to increase the feeling of extreme hardships and suffering among people.
He hailed the ZDF for remaining loyal and maintaining peace in such circumstances.
"Thankfully, Government moved in to stem the price increases and thus neutralise the objective which was meant to cause unbearable suffering on our people and push them into lawless and disorderly conduct.
"I wish to remind all those involved in such unscrupulous activities that the security and welfare of this country and its citizens remain a top priority for Government. In this regard, I would like to thank the defence and security forces for remaining loyal and dedicated to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity of the country in these trying times," said President Mugabe, who is the ZDF Commander-in-Chief.
He said Zimbabwe’s desire to attain economic independence was facing immense challenges.
Since Government embarked on the land reform programme to resettle landless majority blacks, those who wanted to continue controlling Zimbabwe’s natural resources have not only imposed illegal economic sanctions but have influenced the withdrawal of balance of payments support.
President Mugabe said the ZDF had a number of key peacetime roles assisting civil ministries and civilian authorities to enhance socio-economic development.
"In fulfilment of this objective, the Defence Forces were seconded to the Grain Marketing Board where they assisted in the distribution of grain and farming inputs. At Air Zimbabwe, Defence Forces technicians and engineers have assisted the airline staff in carrying out various duties.
"The Defence Forces have also assisted the Civil Aviation Authority where firemen and fire tenders augmented the department’s services."
Another notable contribution by the ZDF, which has the potential of paving the way for broader facets of economic development in the country, was in the field of landmine clearance.
ZDF engineers have since moved to the Sango-Crooks Corner Border Post minefield which lies in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a game park jointly run by Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
"The clearance of landmines in our part of the park ties well with preparations for the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament scheduled for South Africa and should help in boosting our foreign currency inflows."
Cde Mugabe said equally important was the role of the ZDF in Operation Maguta/Inala — a food security operation designed to boost food reserves following droughts in recent years.
"The two-fold mission of the defence forces is to help in introducing food crops and supporting the efficient distribution of farming inputs."
On its part, Government would continue to improve conditions of service in the ZDF reviewing salaries, providing decent accommodation.
Military chiefs honoured
THE Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mugabe, yesterday conferred the country’s top three military chiefs with one of the highest accolades in the land — the Honour of the Grand Commander of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit.
Cde Mugabe decorated ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda and Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri with the honour at commemorations to mark Defence Forces Day at Rufaro Stadium in Harare in recognition of their loyal service to Zimbabwe.
Defence Minister Cde Sydney Sekeramayi read the citation of the three generals who are among some of the living heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
He said Gen Chiwenga was a distinguished liberation war hero whose dedication to the cause of the armed struggle since 1973 saw him serve as:
-Zimbabwe National Liberation Army political commissar (1974)
-Member of the Zanla general staff (1974)
-Director of training (1976)
-Zanla provincial field political commissar (1977)
-Member of the Zanla High Command and its deputy chief political commissar (1978 to 1980).
Gen Chiwenga — a consistent, diligent and dedicated leader — contributed immensely to the building and transformation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces serving as:
-Officer-in-charge of recruitment, training and integration of Zanla and Zipra fighters into the first Zimbabwe People’s Army detachment (1976);
-Liaison officer in the Joint High Command responsible for integrating the former belligerent armies into the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in 1980;
-Commander 1 Brigade (1981);
-Commander 5 Brigade (1984);
-Brigadier-General Staff overseeing the planning and direction of the Special Task Force operations in connection with the Mozambique Campaign (1987);
-Major-General and Army Chief of Administration and Logistics (1988);
-Army Chief of General Staff — the most senior staff appointment in the Zimbabwe National Army (1992);
-Lieutenant-General and Commander of the ZNA (1994);
-General and Commander ZDF since 2004.
General Chiwenga’s astuteness, effective communication and shrewdness in military strategy saw the ZDF succeed in the defence of Zimbabwe’s sovereign integrity, other Sadc states as well as African Union and United Nations peace support missions.
Lt-Gen Sibanda’s dedication and commitment to the cause of the liberation struggle since 1974 has seen him serve as:
-Zipra instructor (1975);
-Regional Commander, Chief of Training and member of the Zipra High Command (1978);
His contribution to the ZDF saw him serve as:
-Liaison officer and subsequently Colonel Quartermaster Staff of the ZNA (1980);
-Commandant of the All Arms Battle School, Nyanga (1983);
-Two times Commandant of the Zimbabwe Staff College — the highest institution of military learning for the ZDF (1982/1988);
-Brigadier-General and Commander 4 Brigade (1986);
-Major-General and Army Chief of Staff (Administration and Logistics) (1992);
-Army Chief of General Staff — the most senior staff appointment in the ZNA (1994);
An astute commander and strategist, his leadership qualities played a pivotal role in the successful execution of the ZDF’s campaigns in the defence of Zimbabwe’s sovereign integrity, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as United Nations Verification Missions in Angola where as force commander, he played an excellent ambassadorial role for Zimbabwe.
Air Marshal Shiri’s dedication and commitment to the cause of the liberation struggle since 1973 saw him serve as:
-Member of the Zanla General Staff and Director of Training (1975);
-Member of the Zanla High Command and Provincial Field Operational Commander during which he directed military operations with skill and courage (1977);
The AFZ Commander’s contribution to the ZDF has seen him serve as:
-Colonel and Founding Commander of 5 Brigade (1981) before as Brigadier-General he laterally transferred to the AFZ;
-Air Commodore and Director of General Supporting Services at AFZ headquarters (1984);
-Air Vice-Marshal and Chief of Staff Supporting Services at AFZ headquarters (1989);
-Air Marshal and Commander of the AFZ (1992);
Air Marshal Shiri is an astute commander and shrewd strategist who played a pivotal role in the success of the ZDF campaigns in the defence of Zimbabwe’s sovereign integrity, Mozambique, the DRC as well as in African Union and the UN peace support missions.