Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa yesterday officially launched the Zimbabwe National Defence University and implored the institution to proffer ideas and innovations that will spur economic growth. The President was also appointed the Chancellor of the university before the launch ceremony, while earlier on he had led the ground-breaking ceremony for the university’s innovation incubation hub.
“The emergence of this university is not only timely, but also opportune as it enhances the development of human capital in various disciplines in the context of defence, security and the protection of our territorial integrity.
“The university is joining the higher and tertiary education sector following a paradigm shift with regards to the contribution of institutions of higher learning to the revival, industrialisation, modernisation and growth of our country.
“To this end, the university must proffer dynamic, cutting-edge ideas, insights, skills and innovations that will set our country on a new economic growth trajectory. I, therefore, challenge the university to complement other institutions of higher learning in areas of research needed to understand and authoritatively analyse contemporary national issues using both theoretical and empirical tools for pragmatic and realistic outcomes.”
President Mnangagwa said defence, security and strategic studies were now part of curricula for many universities and their graduates, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, were contributing to the growth of their economies.
“In this vein, the university must develop a broad and comprehensive education system with a responsive curriculum where students appreciate the broader socio-economic, technological and political aspirations illuminated by an all encompassing strategic thought of national peace and security,” he said.
“You must, as an institution, develop leaders with the ability to operate and think creatively, ‘without the box’, in an unpredictable and complex world.”
President Mnangagwa challenged the university to earn the ‘think tank’ status by coming up with solutions to the country’s challenges and maximising on the abundant opportunities.
“ZNDU can leverage on the Government’s engagement and re-engagement policy to develop partnerships and linkages with other universities and similar institutions from across the world,” he said. “I also exhort you to always protect the academic integrity of this important national institution by guarding against fraud and plagiarism in scholarship.”
President Mnangagwa said the institution should contribute towards modernisation of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, infrastructure development, energy and tourism, among other sectors.
He reiterated Government’s commitment to improve and develop infrastructure within the country’s institutions of higher learning.
“I am aware that the university is seized with the implementation of transformative infrastructure, development programmes and projects; which entail the construction of a new administration block, residence for staff and students, library and convention centre,” said President Mnangagwa.
“These projects also include the construction of an innovation incubation hub, the ground-breaking of which we witnessed today (yesterday).”
The ceremony was attended by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, service chiefs and other senior Government officials.
The institution that was initially called the National Defence College was transformed into a university in March last year.
Meanwhile, Air Vice Marshal Michael Tedzani Moyo, who has been the Acting Vice Chancellor, was also installed as the substantive Vice Chancellor of ZNDU during yesterday’s ceremony.
In his acceptance speech, Air Vice Marshal Moyo thanked the President for the appointment and assured him that he would work to realise the objectives of the university.
“The ZNDU is at the critical stage of its development and I believe that I, together with my colleagues, are privileged to be part of this process,” he said.
“In this regard, I want to assure you that I will marshal the energy and expertise of my staff to perform to the best of my ability in order to realise the objectives of the ZNDU, thereby making it one of the foremost universities in the country.”
In his vote of thanks, vice chairman of the university’s council and ZDF Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda said they would ensure that the transition to a fully fledged university would be smooth.
“With this official launch, you have cleared the way for all remaining programmes to kick off in earnest,” he said. “I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that the council will now do everything in our power to ensure that the transition to a fully fledged university is implemented.”
General Sibanda challenged Air Vice Marshal Moyo to be innovative so that the institution becomes the best in the country.