The Sunday Mail
Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda
First we must understand that for development to take place there has to be peace so that people can go about their aspirations and achieve what they want.
For Zim-Asset to succeed there has to be peace. We are playing our own part in a small way in two clusters of Zim-Asset; the first one being Food Security and Nutrition.
That cluster, you have to recall, has got the provision for the availing of food in adequate quantities to our people.
In that regard, the Army is playing a very important role in the Command Agriculture exercise. We have close to a thousand members who are at various levels and playing an important role there. In our own way as the Army, we have Project Sustain, where we are producing food on our own farms. We have cattle, we have goats, we have sheep, we have chickens, we are doing green maize and this coming season we are doing soya beans and so on.
In that regard we are playing a very important role, contributing to an important Cluster of Food Security and Nutrition.
We are alive to the fact that the 21st century battles and wars are now very much to do with technology.
We are preparing our own troops as we train them taking that fact and factor into account.
However, Zimbabwe should understand that for every country to be able to defend itself it must define who its enemies are and it is after that definition that it must come with a way to deal with that threat.
We are aware that our threat is multi-dimensional and we are preparing ourselves to the extent possible to deal with that matter.
Over the years we have been involved in a number of operations. After the Congo operation, we did a review of our operations in Congo and other operations we have undertaken. We put together new training doctrines and we have been training using those doctrines so that we are able to deal with challenges like the ones we faced in Congo.
We have also been discussing ways to deal with challenges of the future.
We continuously assist Government and Government ministries like the Ministry of Transport. We have a number of officers who are helping that ministry to try and get the NRZ going through technicians.
We are also assisting the Ministry of Agriculture with Command Agriculture. We continue to engage in certain short-term support of various ministries like the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, in grain distribution.
Last year we a had serious problem in the country and we had to help Government distribute the grain that was being imported to those parts of our country that were easily accessible and to those parts of our country that contracted transporters were not willing to go because of the state of the roads there.
We took on that burden as directed by Government. We have been assisting government in these many ways.
We also have been assisting the Police on a continuous basis; in Chiadzwa — for example — where we are trying to ensure that the diamond fields don’t become dominated by illegal panners.
We continue to assist the Police in border operations together with the Ministry of Finance, through Zimra, as we try to reduce smuggling.
I need to commend the officers men and women of the Zimbabwe National Army for their patriotism, dedication and duty as well as willingness to go the extra mile in defence of our country.
Since Independence, the Army has been involved in many operations starting with our own internal problems in the early 1980s; in Mozambique against Renamo when our access to the sea was being threatened.
We went to Somalia at the request of the United Nations, we went to Angola at the request of the United Nations, and we went to Angola then we went to the DRC as the SADC Alliance.
Throughout those operations, the officers displayed a lot of dedication to duty, a lot of patriotism to our country. Some of them paid — that is they lost their lives in the course of these duties.
We will continue to be requested to participate in operations of this nature.
It is important that our officers, men and women understand that if it is in the national interest of our country, as defined in the Constitution, (and) we will take part in those operations.
I know when we say there is a task that needs to be done, they will come forward and deploy as required. We have not heard at any one time officers being called for duty and they did not turn up.
That is very important and I would want to say to them you have made us proud and it is important that we keep doing that and we ensure that we don’t let down our people and our country.
Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda is the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army. He made these remarks at a media conference in Harare last Friday ahead of Defence Forces Day 2017. Transcript by The Herald’s Sydney Kawadza