By Lerato Ndlovu
MDC Alliance today joined the nation in commemorating the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) 40th anniversary.
In a communiqué MDC A spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere said the integration of ZIPRA, ZANLA and Rhodesian colonial forces in 1980 led to the birth of ZDF, hence this year’s commemoration stands to reflect on history and direction of the forces.
“It is 40 years since the Zimbabwe Defense Forces came into being through the integration of the ZIPRA and ZANLA liberation army’s and the Rhodesian colonial forces in 1980.
“This year’s commemoration of four decades of service presents an opportunity to reflect on the history and direction of our Defense Forces.
“There would be no independent Zimbabwe were it not for ZIPRA and ZANLA, whose liberation war feats helped force the uncooperative colonial Rhodesian government to the 1979 Independence talks at Lancaster House. We owe a great debt to the two liberation army’s.”
Constitutionally defined roles of the Defense Forces are to protect Zimbabwe’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, to partake in the design of shared regional security architecture, to play a role in the preservation of international stability and peace, and to offer military assistance to civil authority in times of need.
She stated that the 40 year journey was one without blemishes but sadness of the politicization of the forces and domestic repression of the civic space.
“Our Defense Forces have distinguished themselves in many of their constitutionally defined roles, for 40 years they have safeguarded Zimbabwe’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Our Defense Forces have played an active part in SADC’s security architecture, we take pride in their sterling performances in various peacekeeping missions in Africa and in the role they continue to play in aiding civil authority to save lives, deliver humanitarian aid and spearhead emergency reconstruction as they did in 2019 in the wake of Cyclone Idai.
“However, the Defense Forces’ 40 years of existence have not been unblemished, we note with particular sadness the politicisation of the Defense Forces for domestic repression and the continued militarisation of the civic space,” MDC A said.
The statement stated that in the new Zimbabwe, weapons and arms of war should not be used for political interests or to abuse people’s rights urginh the ZDF has to improve on conditions of service and work on protecting.
“In the new Zimbabwe, weapons and arms of war will never be deployed to support a political party’s partisan interests or impede the people’s right to demonstrate peacefully but instead support collective national interests taking due cognisance of the fundamental rights and diversity of the citizenry.
“Perhaps, the most significant commemoration we can give to our Defense Forces on this day is to collectively call for the improvement of the conditions of service for rank and file soldiers as well as plead with each and every member of the Defense Forces to remember that the people of Zimbabwe are not their enemies, instead, we ask that they work to protect.”
Mahere called on the Defense Forces to remember their constitutional mandate to citizens and act in a manner that better serves their interests by fully complying with their constitutional obligation to respect the lives and dignity of the people in the execution of their duties.