By Blessings Chidakwa
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) yesterday launched its exhibition park at the Museum of African Liberation (MAL) premises in Harare.
ZDF Commander General Phillip Sibanda, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General David Sigauke and Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), Air Marshal Elson Moyo attended the launch which commenced with the showcasing of military hardware including a tank and a helicopter.
Speaking on behalf of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, State Security Minister Owen Ncube said it was disturbing to note that 41 years after the attainment of independence, certain historical events were not yet fully documented.
“It is important to fully appreciate the role of the military personnel and its hardware as the most significant part of the execution of any war. Nevertheless, public exposure to this has remained low and even hidden as is the case in Zimbabwe.
“It is therefore for this reason that Government, through my ministry, has deemed it appropriate that demonstration of military tools of trade be accommodated as part of the permanent displays among the exhibitions at the MAL,” he said.
Minister Ncube said in addition to the military hardware, other materials to be collected would include historical documents and records of known battles.
“There will also be similar exhibitions from other participant countries. One such exhibition space has therefore been set aside under the ZDF Exhibition Park which will form part of the broader MAL exhibition,” he said.
Minister Ncube said to bear witness to these humble first steps towards the establishment of the ZDF Exhibition Park, it would start with showcasing hardware comprising a tank and a helicopter after which more items would be put on display.
“In addition, the ZDF Exhibition Park at the MAL will also accommodate a four-metre by 100 metre memorial wall where a timeline of murals depicting narratives of key events and memories from different phases of the Zimbabwean liberation trajectory will be displayed,” he said.
“Turning to Government’s commitment to the establishment of the MAL, the President of Zimbabwe, Cde Mnangagwa and his Government have allocated 93 hectares of prime land on this site which is in close proximity to key national infrastructure including the National Heroes Acre and the National Sports Stadium.”
Minister Ncube said President Mnangagwa had also personally presided over the groundbreaking ceremony on December 4, 2020 to show his commitment to the project.
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MAL chairperson Professor Simbi Mubako said: “Our defence forces have numerous stories which must be preserved and presented to the ZDF Exhibition Park visitors.
“The ZDF Exhibition Park has been designed to also provide educational content targeted at our history scholars and anyone who is interested in studying Zimbabwean heritage.
“It is our desire to also add an element of enjoyment to those who will visit this park once its completed. We anticipate to bring a wholesome experience between learning, enjoyment and recreation when people visit this exhibition park,” he said.
Prof Mubako said to help put the ZDF Exhibition Park into context, they had also incorporated the Wall of Honour which they strongly believed would render legitimacy on the narrative of the liberation struggle which dated back to the First Chimurenga War in the 1890s.
“So not only will the ZDF Exhibition Park be for visual impressions, but it will go a long way in teaching and reminding Zimbabweans about their national heritage,” he said.
“This will also narrate the difficult but successful resistance, uprising and ultimate conquering of the colonial system by the people of Zimbabwe.
“In the exhibition park, we will have an exhibition area showing the various military wares, images and footage from the various battles as well as military activities undertaken by the defence forces in both war and peace times,” he said.