Saturday, July 17, 2010

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Lays Defence College's Foundation Stone

President lays defence college’s foundation stone

Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday laid the foundation stone for the National Defence College that will enhance the qualifications of senior military officials and understanding of national, regional and international security issues.

The college is being constructed at a 65-hecta-re plot donated by the University of Zimbabwe with financial assistance from Anhui, Foreign and Economic Construction Company of China.

"The mission of the NDC shall be that of comprehensively preparing selected senior military officers from Zimbabwe and friendly countries acquire and develop various analytical skills and knowledge of defence and security issues.

"To achieve this mission, the NDC shall aim to produce graduates who are able to assess international, regional, sub-regional and national security issues, so that they are able to develop options and plans that are strategic in national development," Cde Mugabe said.

The President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said defence studies are vital to developing countries given the challenges they face.

"In order to address attendant challenges that are increasingly becoming a common feature of developing nations in Africa and the world, security concerns of any State should of necessity, address socio-political, economic, technological, military and environmental issues. The need to comprehensively study defence issues is thus imperative," he said.

President Mugabe said the NDC would craft national policy issues and inculcate a sense of belonging in pursuit of national values and an ethos of a united Zimbabwe.

"The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have over the years participated and professionally acquitted themselves in regional peace and enforcement missions in Mozambique, the DRC as well as in the UN and AU Peacekeeping Observer Missions in Angola, Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and Nepal.

"The introduction of the NDC will therefore further enhance the professional capability of the ZDF and other security organisations to higher levels," he said.

The NDC will start as an affiliate of the UZ before it gradually develops into a full-fledged university.

President Mugabe also commended countries that have provided training to Zimbabwe’s military officers when the West withdrew its support after the land reform programme.

"I am aware that in the past Zimbabwe sent senior officers for higher defence and strategic training to British and American military institutions.

"When relations with the West soured over the reclamation of our land and heritage, our reliable friends in the East and the region have become more supportive.

"In this regard, senior ZDF officers have undergone higher defence studies at the National Defence Colleges of China, Pakistan and Kenya. I wish to, therefore, thank the respective governments of these countries for their true friendship.

"We will continue to work with them closely," he said.

President Mugabe also paid tribute to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for training officers at the Zimbabwe Staff College.

"This arrangement clearly demonstrates the sound co-operation that exists between the Government of Zimbabwe and the People’s
Republic of China," he said.

In a speech read on his behalf, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Xin Shunkang said the college would strengthen Zimbabwe-China relations.

"I am deeply convinced that the NDC will become another milestone in the relationship between our two countries and defence forces. Our two countries enjoy profound traditional relations," he said.

Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said the inclusive Government had brought to the fore the need to come up with institutions that enhance national unity.

"The spirit of the GPA has brought to the fore that national defence requires the setting of national institutions to provide national cohesion and the NDC is one such institution," he said.

ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga had earlier told President Mugabe that the institution would provide higher learning to the military, other security departments and strategic parastatals.

"The philosophy behind this project is guided to provide the highest level between military and civilian training.

"This institution will enhance our defence capabilities and restore Zimbabwe’s leadership in the region," General Chiwenga said.

The idea to establish an NDC was mooted in 2004 and a number of exchange visits were conducted with similar international institutions.

Also present at the ceremony were Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime MInister Arthur Mutambara and ministers from the three parties making up the inclusive Government.

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