The government is aware of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces challenges such as housing provision and low salaries, and as the economy improves, a review of the salaries will be effected.

Delivering his keynote address at the 37th Defence Forces Day celebrations at the giant National Sports Stadium today, President Mugabe, who is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, urged the security forces to remain committed to their duties despite these challenges which government is optimistic will be tackled.

Cde Mugabe began his address by congratulating the ZDF for the 37th anniversary celebrations of the Defence Forces Day, saying the day enables the country to celebrate the forces achievements since independence.

President Mugabe commended and congratulated the ZDF for the peaceful environment prevailing in the country, saying Zimbabwe is known as one of the few peaceful nations in the world. He said the ZDF has always been alert to the challenges of the nation, having gone beyond fulfilling their constitutional obligation of ensuring security in the country.

“Kugarika kwedu kunobva kwavari….pamwechete nemapurisa. The ZDF and the police have partnered in “Operation Hakudzokwe” at Chiadzwa,” said President Mugabe.

Outlining the achievements of security forces, President Mugabe said the ZDF has partnered with various communities to build schools in line with the ZIM ASSET cluster of infrastructure development and utilities.

He also spoke glowingly of the projects handed over by the ZDF to various communities during its Community Assistance Week from 7 to 11 August 2017. President Mugabe said during Cyclone Dineo in 2016, the ZDF provided helicopters to assist marooned villagers in areas like Tsholotsho and other flood-hit areas across the country.

“The defence forces also assisted to move grain to needy areas across the country during the drought period in the 2015-2016 season. The lorries to transport the food relief were not enough and the ZDF chipped in,” he said.

On the international scene, Cde Mugabe said the ZDF has deployed its members to countries like South Sudan, Sudan, and Somalia, to assist in UN peacekeeping missions, adding that one medical officer of the ZDF was last year deployed to assist in Somalia.

He commended the ZDF for establishing the National Defence University where the ZDF members will improve their knowledge regarding defence and security.

“Tinoti makorokoto nekuvamba chikoro chepamusoro soro. Kare maive neshungu asi paive pasina chikoro chekuwedzera dzidzo yakadai…..Mukuru wemauto vaChiwenga ava ndi doctor, vakaita doctorate….saka ndanga ndisingambopedza ndisina kuvati makorokoto, kunyange vave nemakore angava maviri vavenaro,” said President Mugabe.

President Mugabe spoke about the demining programmes being done by the ZDF around the country’s border areas to remove anti-personnel land mines. These were laid by the Smith regime to prevent freedom fighters from leaving or returning to the country to engage in the liberation struggle.

He expresses gratitude to countries like Norway and Canada who have supported demining activities including at the Forbes Border Post mine field. President Mugabe said the government has engaged partners to enhance chances of meeting the Ottawa Agreement which says demining must be finished in the whole world by the year 2025.

President Mugabe later presented a posthumous award of the Royal Order of Munhumutapa to Father Pascal Slevin Franciscan, an Irish missionary, for having supported the cause of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle which resulted in his deportation back to Ireland in 1977 while at serving at Mt St Mary’s Mission in Wedza.

The citation of the award read by Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi says after independence, Father Pascal Slevin Franciscan returned to work for the development of Zimbabwe. He also assisted liberation cadres to cross into Zambia, including current ZDF Commander General Constantino Guvheya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga and Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrence Shiri. Father Pascal Slevin passed away on the first of May this year.

This year’s Defence Forces Day is running under the theme: The ZDF: Resolute in Defence of National Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity for Socio- Economic Development.