Addressing the nation on the commemoration of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and President, Emmerson Mnangagwa said his administration is aware of the sacrificial nature and service ethos of the Defence Forces.
"My administration remains determined to improve the salaries and conditions of service for our Forces. Housing, transport and medical facilities among other requirements are being improved in recognition of the role and sacrifices made by our Defence Forces in the conduct of their duties.
"Mobility, requisite training equipment and Research and Development needs will be equally funded to ensure the modernisation and improvement of our national defence capabilities.
President Mnangagwa noted that the enactment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle bill will ensure all who participated in the struggle will be catered for.
"With regard to the War Veterans Affairs, my Government has resuscitated the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill which has now gone past the Second Reading Stage in Parliament. The passing of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill into Law will repeal the War Veterans Act and the Ex -Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act and take on board the previously excluded categories of the Veterans. I am confident that upon its enactment, most of the welfare issues of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle will be resolved," he said.
Commander in Chief said in recognising the immense contribution made by veterans of the liberation struggle there is a need for them to build on this rich legacy by taking full advantage of the empowerment opportunities availed in all sectors of the economy and the implementation of the devolution policy.
"Today, we celebrate the numerous achievements scored over the last forty years since the formation of the ZDF. This occasion is happening on the backdrop of successive accomplishments by our Defence Forces to defend our motherland Zimbabwe from detractors, divisive elements and enemies.
"The commemorations which we are holding this year under the theme, 'ZDF: Celebrating 40 Years of Excellent Service to the People,' are taking place under yet another wave of aggression manifesting through illegal sanctions, hostile anti- Zimbabwe propaganda, mounted on social media platforms, and other forms of asymmetrical warfare meant to break the unity within our forces," he said.
President Mnangagwa acknowledged ZDF's high professionalism for bringing peace within the country and the region at large.
"In executing its constitutional mandate, ZDF has since its formation acquitted itself with distinction and high professionalism and for this they deserve a big compliment. Zimbabwe has continued to enjoy peace largely attributable to the ZDF`s vigilance, loyalty, commitment and dedication to their constitutional obligation of defending the country and its people. The resultant peace and tranquillity has provided a great stimulus for socio-economic development over the years.
President Mnangagwa commended the ZDF for peace keeping roles in the region and globally.
"Whilst maintaining peace in the country, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces continues to participate in regional and international peace keeping missions under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN)," he said.
President Mnangagwa said men and women of the ZDF perform their duties with excellence and unparalleled dedication, as they contribute towards enhancing regional and continental integration.
"In September 2019, the ZDF participated in the Ligwalagwala Air Show in Eswatini while preparations for participation in the Russian International Military Games and Special Forces Exercise CHOMELA to be held in the Republic of Botswana are at advanced stages. Their involvement in these international activities exposes our forces to the use of modern military equipment as well as strengthening ties between our forces and allies.
"Additionally, memories of Cyclone Idai in 2019 bring to mind the Defence Forces' significant role in search and rescue operations as well as provision of food and medical assistance to flood victims. They have also helped in restoring the damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and clinics.
"All these activities demonstrate the commitment of the Defence Forces to serve the nation and the close relationship that exists between them and the generality of the Zimbabwean population. This rich history of assisting communities is commendable and must continue to be the hallmark of our Defence Forces," he said.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces were commended for embracing Government's Vision of attaining an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
"In that regard, the ZDF engineers and artisans are engaged in various construction projects to precipitate development of our communities throughout the country.
"The National Mine Clearance Unit of the Zimbabwe National Army Engineer Corps is also making significant progress in clearing anti-personnel landmines laid by the Rhodesian Regime during the liberation struggle. These include areas along the Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner Minefield. Government is committed to clear all landmines across the country to give full meaning to independence, freedom and development for the affected communities.
"Cooperating partners, Hazardous Life Support Organisation (HALO) Trust, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) are also progressing well in similar demining operations. Let me take this opportunity to express my Government's sincere appreciation for the assistance we are getting from these organisations," he said.
Commander in Chief of the ZDF said the battle with Covid-19 pandemic requires discipline, bravery and unity which are embodied in the personalities we are celebrating today.
"We must be united and fight this invisible enemy together. It is our collective responsibility to protect our nation, our families and our beloved ones. As responsible citizens, let us all cooperate with our security services, assisted by the ZDF as they enforce our national laws. We commend the ZDF for continuing to be a people's army, a reputation it has built over the years.
"In conclusion, I want to thank you all for joining the entire Zimbabwe Defence Forces family in commemorating this special day, the ZDF 40th Anniversary. Thank you, once again for remaining calm and peaceful in the wake of some misguided calls for violent protests and demonstrations by the opposition elements with support from foreign and civil society supporters and backers. You have shown your patriotism and love for peace and tranquillity," he said.
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