Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Says Army Welfare Government's Top Priority

Army welfare Govt’s top priority: President

Herald Reporter

Improving conditions of service for the military is Government’s top priority, Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces President Mugabe said yesterday.

Addressing thousands of people at the 29th anniversary of the ZDF at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare, President Mugabe said the difficult economic circumstances the country was experiencing hindered efforts to improve conditions of service but Government would continue to strive to ensure a better working environment for the uniformed services.

"Improvements in conditions of service for the Defence Forces have been, and will always be, Government’s top priority. However, the difficult economic circumstances we have encountered have eroded and, thus, hindered our efforts to fully address this need," he said.

The President said it was because of this situation that the ZDF was building houses for both commissioned and non-commissioned ranks in Dzivaresekwa, Cranborne West, and at Manyame and Thornhill air bases.

Some senior officers had houses bought for them.

"It is our hope that once completed, these schemes will provide adequate accommodation for all members of the Defence Forces," President Mugabe said.

He said the ZDF had continued with research and development efforts in partnership with some local industries to cut import costs.

"This partnership has benefited the Defence Forces to the extent that they have managed to obviate the importation of some of their equipment and spares requirements," President Mugabe, who is also Head of State and Government, said.

"Having benefited from the Land Reform Programme, the Defence Forces are utilising their farms to supplement their ration allocation from the fiscus. This is a positive development which I hope will be pursued to greater levels and benefit."

As the nation joined the ZDF in celebrating Defences Forces Day, President Mugabe said it was important to reflect on the force’s achievements over the past 29 years.

"At home, the most significant achievement of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is the ability to safeguard the country’s territorial integrity, national sovereignty and national interests, in line with their constitutional obligation. This enabled us to enjoy peace and tranquillity in the country, which, in turn, has contributed to the socio-economic development of the country," he said.

President Mugabe said in line with this year’s celebrations theme of "Creating a Peaceful Environment Conducive for Investment and Economic Growth", the ZDF, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other security services continued to work closely in strengthening the maintenance of peace in the country.

Over the past year, the ZDF continued to conduct intensive border patrol operations with the primary aim of curbing illegal border crossings and smuggling of goods into and out of the country, President Mugabe said.

"The Defence Forces were also deployed to various strategic national resource areas such as gold and diamond minefields, where they have assisted in eradicating illegal panning and illicit dealing activities in these precious mineral resource areas," he said.

In response to food shortages that were a result of alternate droughts and floods, he said the Defence Forces had been deployed to assist the Grain Marketing Board in the distribution of farming inputs under the Maguta programme.

The ZDF was also seconded to other Government departments like Air Zimbabwe and the National Railways of Zimbabwe to give assistance to the parastatals’ technical departments, as well as to various ministries and Government departments where their training and experience "have been a welcome helping hand".

The President said he was pleased with the Defence Forces’ continued de-mining of the land from Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner minefield in eastern Zimbabwe.

They have so far cleared an 8,5km stretch of the deadly landmines.

Their deployment in that part of the country followed the successful completion of a similar programme in the Victoria Falls to Mlibizi minefield.

"As I have previously noted, the ability by the Defence Forces to clear this minefield will open up the area for tourism in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which is a joint wildlife venture by South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Thus far, the landmines have slowed down and limited our participation in the programme," President Mugabe said.

Through their community assistance projects, the ZDF also managed to promote development in various areas by responding to specific needs and providing labour and expertise.

As part of their social responsibilities, the ZDF built classroom blocks, and repaired bridges and infrastructure that had been destroyed by floods over the past year.

The ZDF also provided health care assistance to victims of floods as well as in other national emergencies that included anti-malaria and anti-cholera campaigns.

The ZDF, President Mugabe noted, continued to interact with other armies from the region as well as participating in regional peacekeeping training exercises.

Selected ZDF officers have been involved in the Map and Command Post Exercises conducted in Angola and Mozambique this year.

"The lessons derived from these exercises are part preparation for Exercise Golfinho, which is a regional peacekeeping Field Training Exercise, scheduled to take place in South Africa in September this year. The Sadc Brigade will deploy a multi-dimensional force comprising military, police and civilian personnel," President Mugabe said.

He described the exercise as an important milestone in the promotion of the Sadc peace and security agenda, which was linked to the wider continental strategy in this area.

The ZDF has continued to participate in various United Nations peacekeeping missions dating back to the 1990s.

President Mugabe said the peace and stability that the country enjoyed had angered its detractors who had sought "desperately and without good reason, to find wrongdoing on our part".

The President said allegations of gross human rights abuses and failure to respect good governance practices had provided fodder for the West and its media "as they repeatedly seek blemishes to stick onto our country".

"Even now, having received Sadc and indeed the African Union support for an inclusive Government to which Zimbabweans have committed themselves, our detractors, the same old detractors, continue with their sinister efforts to divide us," President Mugabe said.

Vice President Joice Mujuru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, Cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and senior Government officials attended this year’s celebrations.

Also in attendance were senior ZDF officers and other service chiefs and diplomats.

President confers medals on 41 officers

Herald Reporter

The Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces President Mugabe yesterday conferred the Grand Officer of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit Medal to 41 military officers at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare, a number of them posthumously.

President Mugabe — who is the Head of State and Government — conferred the prestigious honour on four Brigadier-Generals posthumously, all of whom are national heroes buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

The four are Brigadier-Generals Charles Tutus Gumbo, Shadreck Chitekedza, Fakazi Mleya and Paul Armstrong Gunda.

Of the 41 medal recipients, 25 were present.

Thirty-three are Brigadier-Generals from the Zimbabwe National Army, seven are Air Commodores from the Air Force of Zimbabwe while one Flight Lieutenant with the AFZ was also accorded the honour.

Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa read a citation before he requested President Mugabe to confer the officers with the honour of Grand Officer of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit.

"The recommendation arises from a thorough consideration of the outstanding achievements in which these serving, retired and deceased officers distinguished themselves as principled, loyal, dedicated and competent military leaders in their service to Zimbabwe as they played a crucial role in leading the liberation forces as well as moulding the ZDF into a versatile, agile and professional force."

He said the officers had a distinctive part in initiating and monitoring the successful implementation of key operational, administrative and developmental programmes of the ZDF as they strove and succeeded in enhancing national security.

"The redoubtable ZDF that we know of today owes its successes partly to these skilled and committed sons and daughters of the nation symbolising a high level of commitment and professionalism second to none," he said.

Among the medal recipients were Air Commodore Michael Karakadzai, Brig-Gen Ambrose Mutinhiri and Brig-Gen Elisha Muzonzini.

Grand Officer of Zimbabwe Order of Merit Medals

Brigadier-Generals — Charles Gumbo, Gibbs Kachana, Armstrong Gunda, Shadreck Chitekedza, Ramson Maponga, Fakazi Mleya, Ambrose Mutinhiri, Agrippa Mutambara, Mpandasekwa Mzheri, Elisha Muzonzini, Elton Mwaketa, Misheck Tanyanyiwa, Epmarcus Kanhanga, Fidelis Satuku, Sibusiso Moyo, David Sigauke, John Zingoni, John Chris Mupande, Kasirai Tazira, Richman Ncube, Herbert Chingono, Sibangumuzi Khumalo, Charles Tarumbwa, Charles Maredza, Sydney Bhebhe, Noel Mutisi, Michael Sango, Godfrey Chanakira, Douglas Nyikayaramba, Justin Mujaji, Emmanuel Matatu, Etherton Shungu and Gerald Gwinji.

Air Commodores — Kennedy Zimondi, Michael Moyo, Michael Karakadzai, Sheba Shumbayaonda, Jasper Marangwanda, Innocent Chiganze, Jacob Nzvede.

Flight Lieutenant — Shumirai Tavarwisa.

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