Joseph Madzimure-Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) are not only there to fight wars, but also uplift the lives of ordinary people through assisting Government in tackling emerging challenges such as Covid-19.
In an interview, Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda said yesterday the 41st anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was a milestone.
“What is happening today is we are celebrating 41 years of existence and ZDF is committed to transforming lives of ordinary people through assisting the Government confront emerging challenges such as Covid-19.
The ZDF came into being as a result of the integration of the former freedom fighters from Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla), Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra), Rhodesian Army and the Rhodesian Air Force in 1980.
“What we are celebrating today is this very unique institution called the ZDF that was formed by these previously warring individuals to form the ZDF which we are seeing today, is a formidable institution on its own right and very much focused on ensuring peace and stability in Zimbabwe.”
He added: “Sometimes when people look at the military they think it is there to fight wars and so on. We are actually mandated to do a lot of other things rather fighting wars, one of them is to assist the civilians, Government ministries among others.”
The ZDF, he said, has been assisting the Ministry of Health and Child Care in fighting Covid-19.
“In fighting Covid-19, we have been assisting the Ministry of Health and Child Care from the very beginning when the pandemic hit our country. We have been helping the Ministry of Health and Child Care with manpower, we have deployed our manpower into various Government institutions.
“We have our manpower also helping to enforce the Covid-19 lockdowns in support of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
“We are doing a lot in that area and for our community assistance. We have our personnel vaccinating citizens working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. We have vaccinated more than 30 000 people in six days,” said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said: “As the country is celebrating the 41st anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces we are doing so on the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic which have continued to threaten our very existence let alone our important social, political and Government programmes.”
Despite the challenging environment ushered in by the Covid-19 pandemic, she said, the ZDF will continue to excel in its constitutional mandate of defending Zimbabwe’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest.
The minister said the decision to hold this year’s celebrations is highly cherished and critical following last year’s break.
“It is a time to reflect on the important role played by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in providing security, confidence and hope to the nation. It is pleasing to note that community assistance projects completed were handed over last week while those remaining will be commissioned.
“This year’s community assistance programmes included the very relevant and topical dimension of vaccination. The programme saw ZDF teams going all out to assist in Covid-19 vaccination roll out programmes in remote areas.
“It also went a long way boosting our vaccination statistics as we pursue the goal of national herd immunity,” said the minister.
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ZDF here to serve: Gen Sibanda