“This occasion is happening against the backdrop of successive accomplishments by our Defence Forces to defend our motherland Zimbabwe from detractors, divisive elements and enemies.“The commemorations which we are holding this year … are taking place under yet another wave of aggression — manifesting itself through illegal sanctions, hostile anti-Zimbabwe propaganda mounted on social media platforms, and other forms of asymmetrical warfare meant to break the unity within our forces,” Mnangagwa said.
However, he said he was grateful that Zimbabweans had remained “calm and peaceful” despite the call for last month’s failed mass demonstrations.
“This has been coupled with the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.“Sadly, the virus has claimed some decorated members of the ZDF family in the name of Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Perrance Shiri — who was a long time commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement — and the ZDF director of public relations, Colonel Overson Mugwisi, among others,” Mnangagwa said.
“I am aware of the sacrificial nature and service ethos of the Defence Forces. However, my administration remains determined to improve the salaries and conditions of service for our forces.“Housing, transport and medical facilities, among other requirements, are being improved in recognition of the role and sacrifices made by our Defence Forces in the conduct of their duties,” Mnangagwa said.
“In September 2019, the ZDF participated in the Ligwalagwala Air Show in Eswatini, while preparations for participation in the Russian International Military Games and Special Forces Exercise CHOMELA — to be held in the Republic of Botswana — are at advanced stages.“Their involvement in these international activities exposes our forces to the use of modern military equipment, aswell as strengthening ties between our forces and allies.“Additionally, memories of Cyclone Idai in 2019 bring to mind the Defence Forces’ significant role in search and rescue operations, as well as the provision of food and medical assistance to flood victims.“They have also helped in restoring the damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and clinics,” Mnangagwa said.“All these activities demonstrate the commitment of the Defence Forces to serve the nation and the close relationship that exists between them and the generality of the Zimbabwean population.“This rich history of assisting communities is commendable and must continue to be the hallmark of our Defence Forces,” he added.