By Freeman Razemba
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces is honoured to be associated with the Angolan Armed Forces and will work towards further enhancement of the relations. This was said by Commander Defence Forces General Philip Valerio Sibanda yesterday during a reception to mark the 27th Anniversary of the Angolan Armed Forces held at the Angolan Embassy in Harare.
“As you are aware, relations between Zimbabwe and Angola, and hence our Defence Forces, date back to the pre-independence era, when we shared one agenda as liberation movements in our fight against colonialism,” he said.
“Zimbabwe remains indebted to the people of your great country because at the attainment of your independence in 1975, Angola provided military bases to the Zimbabwe liberation fighters where a number of our cadres were trained.”
Gen Sibanda said Angola stood by Zimbabwe.
“This sacrifice by the people of Angola was an immeasurable contribution to our cause, especially as such an act would certainly invite the wrath of the Rhodesian regime whose Air Force attacked our bases in neighbouring countries,” he said.
Gen Sibanda said as Zimbabwe consolidated its independence in the 1990s, a request was made by the United Nations for the country to contribute troops to the peacekeeping efforts in Angola.
He said in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, Zimbabwe did not hesitate to deploy troops, staff officers and military observers as requested by the UN.
“The same spirit of Pan-Africanism repeated itself in 1998 when Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe deployed to the DRC at the invitation of the DRC government, to stave off a foreign invasion by those who sought to overthrow the government of the country,” said Gen Sibanda.
He said the shared experiences during the DRC campaign enabled Angola, the DRC, Namibia and Zimbabwe to sign a Mutual Defence Treaty in April 1999, which treaty was later developed into the SADC Mutual Defence Pact of 2003.
“We as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces together with our Angolan Armed Forces brothers and sisters stand proud to have played an important and pioneering role in this regard,” said Gen Sibanda.
“This endeavour subsequently saw the rest of the Sadc region embracing a collective security paradigm which is responsive to the contemporary threats confronting our nations in the 21st century.
“This all-encompassing pact focuses on issues of conflict resolution, military preparedness, collective security and settlement of disputes.
“Our regional Defence Forces have thus benefited from the positive outcome of this model of regional integration leading to the establishment of the Sadc Standby Force which was launched in Lusaka, Zambia, in the year 2006. The roots of this achievement are clearly traceable to the Mutual Defence Pact of April 1999.”
The event was attended Angolan Ambassador Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto, Angola Armed Forces deputy chief of the main directorate of patriotic education Lieutenant General Antonio Jose Fernandes, members of the diplomatic corps and senior army and Government officials.