by Chugumbu Warikandwa
The Zimbabwe Defense Forces have since independence used their guns outside Zimbabwean Borders. Regionally, the force has gone into the Mozambique campaign to help the Frelimo Government against Renamo Bandits that sought to wrestle power unconstitutionally.
The force also arrived in Angola to defend President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’s administration which had similar problems to those as in Mozambique.
Faced with another internal crisis with external catalysts in the DRC in 1998, the ZDF moved in swiftly into the vast central African country under the auspices of the Operation Sovereignty Legitimacy. All these three campaigns left the force a lot of admiration on the continent and beyond. The force has gone for peace keeping missions in Liberia, Kosovo, Sudan (Darfur) and Sierra Leone under the United Nations.
At home, the ZDF was ever ready to help both Government and the people, especially in times of civilian need. The country has faced at least five flooding incidences since 1980. The Air Force of Zimbabwe has used its aircrafts to airlift marooned villagers from such flood prone-low lying areas such as Muzarabani, Tsholotsho and Chiredzi, Tsholotsho being the newest beneficiary of the ZDF benevolence.
The ZDF recruits workmen from various trades which help the force fulfil its mandate. These include professionals and para-professionals that undergo internal training so they become fit for purpose. Such recruitment pattern helps the force meet any demand that comes their way, making them a handy reserve labour force to respond to emergencies.
The ZDF offers emergency healthcare workshops in areas of health distress. When affected by a deadly cholera outbreak in 2008, the ZDF partnered the Ministry of Health and the City of Harare to fight the disease through offering medical assistance. Similarly, in Chingwizi, the ZDF was on the ground helping marooned villagers in the aftermath.
The ZDF has not limited the scope of their operations to the Ministry of Defense only; instead, they have partnered all government Ministries and departments in their civil-military engagements. With the Ministry of Finance, the ZDF helps curb economic crimes through securing traditional and emerging points of smuggling contraband that harm the country’s economic interests.
In the wake of natural disasters, much of which are flood related, the ZDF has worked tirelessly in the reconstruction effort to restore critical infrastructure which includes roads, schools, clinics, hospitals and bridges. The force has also committed resources, human and financial in delivering new infrastructure to communities. This month, the ZDF built schools and classroom blocks in Masvingo where a lecture room block was constructed and handed over to the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe University in Masvingo. Elsewhere around the country, the force was involved in various infrastructure delivery programs.
The ZDF has special interest in infrastructure because infrastructure is a cardinal component in delivering safe and secure livelihoods to the community. A community devoid of sound infrastructure lives a poorly life.
The ZDF has been partnering the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and rural resettlement in managing government funded agriculture programs, which include but are not limited to the Maguta Program and the Command Agriculture Program. Under CAP, the country produced bountiful grain in 2017, a feat that was not achieved in the past two decades. This feeds into national food security. A well fed nation’s health is also secured, thanks to the sterling efforts of the ZDF and partnering ministries and government departments.
With regards to the Ministry of Water, Climate and Conservation, the ZDF works hand in glove with the Department of National Parks to protect the country’s game and vegetation species from marauding gangs of poachers, some with extra-territorial reach. Without the active involvement of the ZDF, our natural resources, some under the custody of other ministries, could have been plundered to nothing.
In precious minerals management, the force has worked tirelessly in the Chiadzwa diamond fields to protect the exploitation of the rare mineral from thieving gangs. In the absence of the force, the country could have lost a fortune.
The ZDF does not limit its protective hand to traditional tasks alone; it also is ready to defend the country’s citizens from new threats and aggressors. Zimbabwe’s security is nothing to worry about in the presence of the ZDF. Long live the Zimbabwe Defense Forces. Long Live Zimbabwe!