THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) has always played a pivotal role in nation building and has emerged as a national symbol representing the nation’s unique characteristics.
ZDF’s military virtues of sacrifice, loyalty and discipline have always remained and must serve as objects of veneration for the rest of the nation.
These ideals have since long remained the cornerstone of ZDF’s nation building thrust. The armed forces have proved to be among the most important national institutions by ensuring security for the nation and enabling Zimbabwe to transform into a democratic and plural society.
While it is the job of security forces to protect, defend and fight – a feat that takes the combination of mental and physical toughness, as it is always up to them to protect Zimbabweans, they have the extra mandate of assisting in the development of communities.
Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda said the uniformed forces had a “secondary” mandate of assisting communities in developmental projects.
“As you might be aware, our primary role as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is to defend the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest. Military aide to civil communities and authorities is therefore a part of our secondary role. We do community assistance projects throughout the country,” he said.
It is in that vein that the uniformed forces have been at the forefront helping build Manicaland through various developmental initiatives. Last week was ZDF Community Assistance Week, where the work of the defence forces in the community was highlighted and celebrated. In Manicaland, ZDF has rescued various communities, both in rural and urban settings in a bid to ameliorate the levels of hardships being experienced by the people.
From building of roads, bridges, schools, public health facilities, vocational facilities, sporting facilities, medical outreaches and provision of essential supplies, the army has been at the forefront of nation building.
Some of the deliverables include construction two classrooms blocks at Mount Carmel Primary School (Headlands), Grade Seven classrooms block at Nyamauru Primary School (Dangamvura), Mapako Complex Clinic (Nyanga), Dangamvura-Gimboki Footbridge, water reservoirs in Makoni South and Garawaziva and St Moses Chimhova clinics in Buhera North, classroom blocks at Sheni Primary School (Dangamvura) and an ECD centre (Buhera), just to mention a few.
Currently, the uniformed forces are constructing a block of two classrooms at Birchenough Bridge Primary School (Buhera) and a girl’s dormitory at Nyatsanza High School (Hauna). The Zimbabwe Defence Forces Community Assistance Week also saw disadvantaged members of community receiving free medication. The turnout showed that a lot of less-privileged people cannot afford medication and are suffering in silence from health complications that are compromising the quality of their life.
On the other hand, the ZDF has also steadfastly remained loyal to the elected Government and have been the obedient servant, religiously playing its traditional role of rendering advice on matters concerning national security. This onerous responsibility has been undertaken by the army with utmost responsibility and maturity.
The armed forces have always been ready to defend the nation at all times. The ZDF has been a symbol of unity and in particular has maintained their ethos, which proved to be a strong fabric for national integration.
Security comes first in the pecking order because the other three pillars function effectively only if the security threshold of a nation, both internal and external, remains intact. This in turn facilitates smooth functioning of democracy and brings in its wake social justice and economic development.
The ZDF has contributed immensely to grooming the youth, inculcating in them the qualities of discipline, selfless service and the spirit of nationalism.
All the ideals that shape our forces are instilled in the young minds to develop their character, through qualities like comradeship, discipline, leadership, secular outlook, spirit of adventure and ideals of selfless service. This will remain a core activity for the times to come that shall shape the value system of the future generations and hence has a direct bearing on the moral quotient of nation building efforts.