Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) is mandated to provide an environment conducive for economic development as evidenced by the peace prevailing in the country, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said this while addressing Junior Staff Course Number 70 graduates at the Zimbabwe Staff College yesterday.
“As enshrined in the Zimbabwe Defence Policy, our defence forces are not only there to wage wars as alleged by our detractors, but also take a proactive role in providing a peaceful social and tranquil environment that is conducive for economic development,” she said.
“The resultant high level of professionalism has enabled the ZDF to effectively perform its constitutional role of maintaining peace and stability locally, regionally and internationally.
“Therefore, the professional conduct and dedication to duty by our defence forces has seen this country enjoy a relatively peaceful environment which has contributed immensely to the development of our country.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri urged the graduates to implement the knowledge acquired for the development of their countries and organisations.
The course registered a 100 percent pass rate.
“As you return to your units, formations, bases and countries, you should prove beyond reasonable doubt that indeed you acquired and assimilated knowledge during your five months stay at this college,” she said.
“Your respective organisations are, therefore, looking forward to the return of more enlightened officers who are ready to implement the newly acquired knowledge and skills that will contribute to organisational development.
“You are the next generation of military leaders that is expected to lead the defence forces into the future.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri acknowledged contributions by officers from the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China.
“We do appreciate the assistance provided by the People’s Liberation Army training team since 2004,” she said. “Their contribution has continued to add value to the Zimbabwe Staff College’s training programmes.
“Our fervent hope is, therefore, that the relationship between the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the People’s Liberation Army will continue to flourish in order to cement the bond of friendship that has existed since the days of the liberation struggle.”
The course, which ran from June to November, saw 41 officers graduating with certificates and among them were five from Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Lesotho.
Of the 41 students, only two were females.
“I am, however, dismayed by the male-female ratio of two females to 39 men,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri. “This represents a paltry 4,9 percent, falling far short of the expected 50 percent that the national policy on gender equity endeavours to achieve.
“It is pleasing though that there is a deliberate effort to enlist more women in line with the Government gender policy. In this regard, may I take this opportunity to direct the college to reserve a certain quota as a form of affirmative action as dictated by Section 17 of our Constitution.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri thanked the commandant and his team for the 100 percent pass rate, adding that her ministry will continue to support the Zimbabwe Staff College.
Captain Evermore Chiwira from the ZDF was the overall best student.
The ceremony was attended by the Secretary for Defence and War Veterans Affairs Mr Martin Rushwaya, Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and Army Commander Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo, among other service chiefs.