It was a carnival atmosphere at the National Sports Stadium as Zimbabweans gathered for the main celebrations of 39 years of the founding of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
President Mnangagwa presided over the commemorations which were held under the theme; “The ZDF: Guaranteeing Peace and Security for National Development”.
While the main event was held in the capital, Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs read the President’s speech at events held in the country’s nine other provinces.
At the National Sports Stadium thousands of people thronged the venue and by 10am long queues of people entering the stadium had formed.
Several banners with various messages were also on display and some of the messages read; “Eradicating corruption for national economic growth”, “Embracing our own currency for prices stabilisation”, “Peace and unity for a better Zimbabwe”.
It was a colourful and carnival event at the 60 000-seater stadium intermittently reverberated to Alick Macheso’s music, Zimdancehall artist Enzo Ishall and Jeyz Marabini as well as displays by paratroopers from the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
Soccer fans were later treated to a match between ZDF Select and Lesotho Defence Forces.
Protocol began with the arrival of dignitaries, including First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, followed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces President Mnangagwa to a rousing welcome.
This was immediately followed by the playing of the national anthem.
President Mnangagwa then proceeded to inspect the guard of honour, which was followed by the march past in slow and quick time then advance in review order amid cheers from the swelling crowd.
Senior Chaplain-General Colonel Joseph Nyakudya followed by commissioning the events of the day into the hands of the Almighty God in prayer.
Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri then invited President Mnangagwa to a special ceremony of presentation of colours for the three AFZ bases namely Manyame, Josiah Tungamirai and Jason Ziyapapa Moyo airbases.
The presentation of colours, which originated traditionally from ancient Egypt over 5 000 years ago were carried into battle as their rallying point, developing a spirit of pride, loyalty and identity and also to mark the location of the command.
This spirit is a critical success factor in the conduct of the AFZ and in the operations of the ZDF.
Since the attainment of independence in 1980 the Airforce had not been presented with its colours while the ZNA formations and units were presented theirs in 2017 .
Manyame Airbase received its colour badges with various features which resembles the base’s roles in defending the air space and Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity.
It has as its features, an image of a lion holding an axe in an attacking stance, the significance of the lion holding the axe is the animal’s common traits which resembles majesty, strength, courage, which are values that the base prides in.
The motto of the base which is, “Steadfast”, means the base is resolute in performing its roles in defence of Zimbabwe’s air space and territorial integrity.
For Josiah Tungamirai Airbase in Gweru, the images on the colour badge include the name of the base, the image of an eagle clutching a sword.
As a bird of prey, the eagle represents the fighter ground attack, interceptor, and reconnaissance aircraft housed at the airbase while the sword represents the weapons used by the platforms for the purpose of effectively defend the airspace and Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity.
The motto of the base is “For Arms”, which means that the airbase is always armed and ready to perform various roles.
The Jason Ziyapapa Moyo Base which is located between Kadoma and Chegutu houses air defence squadrons and training schools.
The images on the colour badge include a leopard holding a cannon in an attacking stance. The combination of the animal and the cannon represents the basis of uncompromising stance to defend Zimbabwe’s airspace.
The motto of the air base is “Train To Fight”, which captures the role of the air base in training members to perform their various roles in the air force of Zimbabwe.
This colour presentation exercise was followed by the conferring of medals to the ZDF for their outstanding performance in assisting people affected by Cyclone Idai.
The exercise was officiated by President Mnangagwa. This was followed by the parade’s march in slow and quick time and advance in review order.
This was followed by the fly past that involved various aircraft including MIG 21, Casa 212, MI 35 helicopter gunships and August Bell 412, Alouette III, SF260 Trainer Aircraft, Hawk jet and F7 fighter jet.
President Mnangagwa took to the podium to give his national address in which he encouraged the forces to remain resolute, and to diligently and professionally execute their mandate to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security, interests and territorial integrity.
After delivering his speech, the President joined services chiefs, high ranking Government officials and diplomats in watching the skilful defence forces performing their drills and displays.
Also present at the function were, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, service chiefs, Government ministers, Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda and several diplomats.
In Manicaland thousands of people thronged Sakubva Stadium in Mutare to mark the day. The 16 000-seater stadium was filled to capacity and there was entertainment galore provided by members of the ZDF.
Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, who was the guest of honour read the President speech.
Members of the Mozambique Defence Forces led by Mendes Arauyo (Provincial Director Prisons) joined their ZDF counterparts.
In an interview with The Herald after delivering President Mnangagwa’s speech, Minister Gwaradzimba showered the ZDF with praises for assisting victims of Cyclone in Idai when the disaster struck. On his part, Mr Mendes said the defence forces of any nation plays a very important role in safeguarding a country’s independence.
At Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo, there was a hive of activity as the stadium was filled to capacity with Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira leading the celebrations that were spiced with various entertainment activities that kept people on the edge.
Proceedings started with the parade comprising detachments from ZNA 4 Infantry Brigade accompanied by drum majorettes marching from Chikato to the stadium.
4 Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Exobious Tshuma then led other service chiefs into the stadium.
Minister Chadzamira then read the Presidential speech before the crowd was entertained by Mutimurefu Traditional dance troupe and drills by schoolchildren.
The celebrations continued till day end with football matches pitting select soccer groups.
Present at Mucheke was Minister of State in Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s office Davis Marapira, Provincial Council member Major-General Gibson Mashingaidze (Retired), Masvingo mayor Collins Maboke and other senior Government officials.
In Mashonaland Central hundreds of people gathered at Chipadze Stadium for this year’s Defence Forces Day celebrations.
Proceeding started with a procession by the Headquarters Artillery Brigade from Chipadze High School where they were camping, through Chipadze high density suburb to the stadium.
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Senator Monica Mavhunga led proceeding, inspected the parade and read the President’s speech.
Farai Tambai Express band, Nehanda Nyakasikana dance group and Gule Wamkulu provided entertainment.
Service chiefs, Bindura mayor councillor Carlos Tokyo, War Veterans provincial chairperson Cde Sam Parirenyatwa, provincial development coordinator Mr Cosmas Chiringa and Government officials were among dignitaries.
The celebrations ended with a friendly soccer match between Manhenga United and Bindura United.
In Mashonaland West, thousands of people residents from Chinhoyi and surrounding areas filled Chinhoyi Stadium to the brim to witness the commemorations of the 39th Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka led the celebrations with the highly-appreciative crowd being entertained by various acts which included drills from members of the Zimbabwe National Army and Air Force of Zimbabwe.
The programme started towards mid-day when Minister Mliswa-Chikoka, on arrival, inspected a parade made of 115 officers and members of the ZNA and AFZ who later thrilled the crowd marching in slow and quick time.
She then read President Mnangagwa’s speech before the parade marched off the arena to open for various entertainment groups.
The crowd was kept on their toes through scintillating displays by young motorbike performances from 11-year-old Tadiwanashe Nyamufukudza who was accompanied by her four-year-old brother Victor.
The motorbike display was accompanied by performances of Popeye Drill by members of the ZNA, a karate display, drum majorettes from Nemakonde High School, ZNA bayonet fight drill, Jarusalem dance from the Manyame Primary School and the Jonathan Siyastimuziya-led Situmu Band.
In attendance was Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga, Zanu-PF provincial vice chairman and Chegutu West legislator Cde Dexter Nduna, Mhangura MP Precious Chinhamo-Masango, Chinhoyi mayor Mr Dyke Makumbi, service chiefs and members of the Provincial Council among other dignitaries.
In the Midlands Province yesterday joined the rest of the country in commemorating Defence Forces Day at Mkoba Stadium, which was characterised by pomp and funfair.
People started trickling into the venue around 9am as they jostled for positions that would give them a better view of the joint routine drills by the uniformed forces.
Guest of honour, Midlands Minister of State Larry Mavima inspected a parade mounted by the ZNA and the AFZ before the national anthem was played by the army band.
Minister Mavima also read the President’s speech before mock bayonet combat and popeye drills by officers from Zimbabwe Military Academy and Five Brigade opened the entertainment segment of the day.
There were also artistic displays and fly pasts by jets and helicopters from the Airforce at Josiah Tungamirai Airbase in Gweru.