AS the country marked Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day yesterday, The Herald sat down with Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Commander Lieutenant General Edzai Chimonyo to talk about the Day and what it means, below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: What is your assessment of this year’s ZDF Day which was held under the theme “Celebrating 40 years of excellence service to the people”?
A: Thank you for inviting me as we celebrate 40 years as the ZNA after our independence. As you are aware, the ZNA’s commitment to safeguarding our country’s national security interests is demonstrated in operations we have participated in, such as the Mozambican campaign, the DRC campaign and many other internal disaster operations such as Cyclone Idai, last year.
We have contributed immensely to international security through participation in peace support operations in Somalia as you are aware, Angola and many other countries.
We feel humbled and happy to celebrate the achievements we have achieved so far as a nation in the past 40 years.
Q: Can you explain the values that define the ZNA?
A: The values that we consider very important in the ZNA are loyalty, professionalism, patriotism, discipline and unity of purpose.
All members of the ZNA are expected to be patriotic, as well as expected to exhibit personal integrity and unity of purpose, without those ingredients then we have no army, adhering to these values we have managed to give the people of Zimbabwe an excellent service over the past 40 years.
Q: As the ZNA celebrates 40 years, what would you say are the major achievements?
A: We are the insurers and guarantors of peace in the country and as such mandated in the constitution to safeguard the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest just like in any other country in the world as enshrined in the constitution.
For the past 40 years we have managed to achieve those objectives, resulting in the creation of a conducive environment for business and economic activity to thrive, for without peace we cannot enjoy ourselves, we cannot do business, we cannot do anything.
History has it up to now, where there are wars, development has been slowed. On the international arena, the ZNA has participated in various military, and humanitarian operations. We have been involved in SADC, AU and UN activities.
Our troops have also been deployed in Mozambique during the Renamo insurgency, primarily to safeguard infrastructures that bring essential services into the country.
We have also assisted in Somalia during the time of Siad Barre, in Angola, where my boss General Sibanda was one of the commanders there, the DRC, South Sudan, Rwanda among others for the success of regional and international peace.
Q: How have you been contributing in ensuring social and economic transformation?
A: The ZNA’s contribution to socio-economic transformation has largely been through guaranteeing a peaceful environment for business to operate. We have also contributed to the economic activity through the secondary role of military aid to civil ministries and civil communities.
There has also been hands-on in a number of economic activities with our officers, men and women attached to various sectors of the economy for instance drought relief operations, food and grain distribution, disaster mitigation operations, housing infrastructure development. We have also seconded members to assist with operations in the NRZ, GMB, ZUPCO and ARDA.
Currently, the ZNA has deployed troops to the Ministry of Health and Child Care to assist in the fight against coronavirus, which has created havoc the world over.
Q: In conclusion, what would you like to share with the people of Zimbabwe
A: In conclusion, I would like to tell the people of Zimbabwe that we are their soldiers and we are there to serve and protect them.