Saturday, August 11, 2012

(HERALD ZW) ZDF loyal to civilian authority: Chiwenga

ZDF loyal to civilian authority: Chiwenga
Saturday, 11 August 2012 00:00
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

ZIMBABWE Defence Forces are loyal to civilian authority and their discipline has never been questionable, ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga has said.
He said experience gained during the days of the liberation struggle had taught them the importance of subordination to civilian political authority, contrary to criticism by some members of the inclusive Government that the forces were biased towards Zanu-PF. He was speaking in an interview ahead of the Defence Forces Day commemorations on Tuesday.

Gen Chiwenga said ZDF had remained loyal to the country and authority, despite challenges brought by illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

“The principle of military subordination to civilian authority, which is the cornerstone of professionalism was borne out of the armed struggle and not these theories, which are being talked about that are very nonsensical.

“That principle to civilian authority was borne out of the armed struggle and that is how this country was liberated, which then entails self dedication to serve the people, which was also an attribute gained during the liberation struggle.

“The initiatives in the face of adversity as well as resilience and commitment to duty were also hallmarks of liberation fighters and these are secrets, which have now been passed on to this generation of fighters and will continue to be passed on to generations to come,” he said.

Gen Chiwenga said the ZDF owed its success to liberation war commanders such as Cde Josiah Tongogara, Alfred Nikita Mangena, General Solomon Mujuru, former ZDF commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe and Air Chief Marshall (Josiah) Tungamirai, among others.
Gen Chiwenga slammed accusations that the ZDF was active in Zanu-PF politics, saying people who were saying that wanted them to forget their history.

“That is absolutely nonsense. Can someone really say one must cut off his history and throw it away?
“People have been to the struggle, be it in Zipra or Zanla and that is a fact and throughout the world no other force has been as loyal as ZDF. If we were partisan, this country would have gone to the dogs.
“But we also have to safeguard our sovereignty, national integrity. For them to say that, there is freedom of speech. It also has to be known that everyone has that right to freedom of speech,” Gen Chiwenga said.

He said the ZDF had a proven track record that has seen them participate in various peacekeeping missions around the world and said as a force they continued to strive to improve standards as seen by the construction of the National Defence College.
He said Zimbabwe continued to train officers from other countries in the region, a testimony of their professionalism.

He defended the ZDF decision to engage in business activities, saying this was common practice the world over.
“The development of a nation is jointly done by its citizens. Everyone who has the capability must work for the development of the nation be it in science, business or tourism,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant General Phillip Valerio Sibanda said the army remained resolute in fulfilling its constitutional mandate despite the challenges brought by the illegal sanctions.
“The ZNA is part of Zimbabwe and we were affected by the sanctions. We share the same cake and whatever affects our people out there, affects us too.

“But let me say the economic challenges we have faced are clearly understood by our members and we have vowed as an army that these challenges will not derail our ability to successfully execute our mandate.
“We have continued to perform our duties and yes, we talk of challenges but they have not been an impediment to executing or achieving our mandate,” he said.

On allegations by Finance Minister Tendai Biti that the army was secretly recruiting personnel, Lt Gen Sibanda said ZNA had done everything above board.
“It is very unfortunate that somebody decided to call our recruitments illegal or to term them illegal because as far as we are concerned we made our plans known,” he said.

Lt-Gen Sibanda said Zimbabweans, especially the youths, needed to appreciate the importance of the Heroes and Defence Forces Days as they signified the supreme sacrifices of gallant sons and daughters of the country.
“As we celebrate Heroes and Defence Forces 2012 I think it is incumbent upon each and every member to sit back and think about what these two days mean.

They are a very important element in our history and it is important that we obviously reflect on the past because it is the past that defines our future.
“I would also like to say to the youths of Zimbabwe, some of them born well after independence that it does not mean that Heroes and Defence forces are for those who fought the war of liberation or who had been born during the time of liberations war.

“It is for all Zimbabweans and we should sit back and reflect on what brought about this independence, it is time to think about those that sacrificed and lost their lives to bring the independence we celebrate today,” he said.

Lt Gen Sibanda urged Zimbabweans to be cognisant of their history.
“Our history is extremely rich and our history needs people who can work on it, who believe in it and who can articulate it.

“We have people who would rather articulate American history, Commonwealth history or imperial British history without wanting to talk about our own history. It’s like our history started in 1980 and this is most unfortunate,” he said.
The ZNA commander said the army would continue to work with the general populace in various activities and projects across the country.

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