Incoming Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant General Edzai Absolom Chanyuka Chimonyo takes over command of the Zimbabwe National Army
Commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda at a colourful parade held at One Commando Barracks on 14 March 2018.
The Vice President and Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Guvheya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga was the Chief Witness to the Handover and Takeover Parade. Speaking at the occasion, General Chiwenga called on the Zimbabwe National Army to be on the forefront in supporting national developmental programmes for socio-economic growth in the country.
“The ZNA is expected to take a leading role in nation building by supporting the Government’s socio-economic developmental programmes. Indeed, it is your responsibility as Defence Forces to cultivate and defend the country’s economic interest by supporting civil ministries,” he said.
“The advent of the new political dispensation bestows the onus on all of us to revive the economy by mobilising local and international investment in support of His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s clarion call that Zimbabwe is open for business.”
Vice President Chiwenga said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces were a highly formidable force whose exploits have earned them respect not only locally but also beyond the country’s borders.
“Our Defence Forces are renowned and respected nationally, regionally and internationally for their professional conduct. This can be clearly demonstrated by the number of successful operations they have undertaken in United Nations peace-support operations, Mozambique Campaign, the DRC Campaign and Operation Restore Legacy among others,” said General Chiwenga.
General Chiwenga said he was aware of the challenges the organisation was facing in improving its capabilities and requirements to develop the ZDF into the desired formidable entity.
“I want to assure you that my ministry is fully committed to the task of ensuring your requirements are fully provided for while conditions of service are regularly reviewed. I urge you all to remain firm in your endevour in building a robust defence force that guarantees the security of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe,” he said.
Vice President Chiwenga congratulated the outgoing commander, General Sibanda for his illustrious leadership of the ZNA. “You have always shown composure and determination in your endevour to promote the true Zimbabwean spirit from the days of the liberation struggle and throughout your service in the ZDF. I therefore call upon you to maintain the same vigour, dedication and allegiance in your new assignment as Commander Defence Forces.”
To the incoming commander, Lieutenant General Chimonyo, Vice President Chiwenga said: “Your promotion and appointment was based on distinction and merit as you have shown great visionary leadership as a distinguished liberation fighter, decorated military commander and shrewd ambassador. As you assume a higher and more challenging assignment, I have no doubt that you will take a leading role in further developing the ZNA into a reputable professional competent.”
In his speech, General Sibanda said the ZNA transformed into a formidable force during his leadership albeit budgetary challenges that saw him come up with initiatives to improve members’ welfare. “The Army remained visible both at home, in the region and beyond our region. It is also true that during my period as Commander ZNA, our country went through its most difficult period, which ranged from high inflation, empty food shelves in supermarkets, unavailability of cash and inadequate food for troops,” said General Sibanda.
“Out of these many challenges came many innovations intended to alleviate their impact on our troops, the most successful being Project Sustain. Project Sustain is in its third year now and was established to improve the diet, quality and quantity of food available to our troops.”
Lieutenant General Chimonyo said he would ensure that peace prevails in the country for the nation’s economic growth. “Central to the execution of my mandate will be the need to ensure continued preservation of the country’s security in order to create a conducive environment for investments and business activities, professional adherence to the ideals and values enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.
He called on members of the organisation to remain disciplined and professional saying the eyes of the nation were upon the force. “The new dispensation expects us to behave and act professionally and ensure that the legacy of the liberation struggle remains the pillar of our nation.”
Lieutenant General Chimonyo is a hero of the liberation struggle and has between 1980 and 2008, held various appointments at Brigade, Army and Defence Headquarters levels before his transfer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008, where he was appointed Ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania until 2017.