The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa commissioned the 34th Parade of the Regular Officer Cadet Course on 24 May 2018. He expressed gratification at commissioning the parade, his first as the Commander-in-Chief.
“I am gratified that this is the 34th Commissioning Parade of the Regular Officer Cadet Course to take place at the Academy since the attainment of our independence in 1980 and it is indeed my first, as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” he said.
The commissioning parade marked the completion of 21 months of training. The course commenced training on 05 September 2016 with an initial enrolment of one 158 officer cadets of whom 36 were female, eight already serving members in the ZNA and five from the Namibia Defence Force.
The President commended the relations between Zimbabwe and Namibia. “The continued presence of the students from the Republic of Namibia is testimony of the cordial relations that continue to exist between our two defence forces. The benefits of such kinds of cooperation in the maintenance of peace and security cannot be overemphasised”, he said.
He said the graduation marked another milestone in the history of the Zimbabwe Military Academy, which had committed to fulfilling its mandate and mission of identifying and moulding young men and women of the country as well as those from SADC countries into competent and professional junior officers within their respective forces.
The President applauded the female officer cadets among the graduands. “All allow me to applaud the 33 female officer cadets among the graduands who are the second highest number to graduate in the history of cadet training at the Academy following the commissioning of 35 female officer cadets who graduated on the Regular Officer Cadet Course 3/32/19,” he said.
He pointed out that it was indeed regrettable that the number of female cadets remained low and urged all to continue in the quest for greater participation of women in the defence forces.
Out of the initial 158 Officer Cadets, nine dropped out of the course or left due to various reasons such as exhaustive demands of training, medical unfitness, voluntarily resignation, indiscipline or incompetence.
He congratulated and also paid special tribute to the graduands for the determined resolve and commitment they showed during their course of training to meet the high mental and physical standards set by the Academy.
“I am informed that your achievements today, were under immense challenges as your stay at the Academy was not as easy as you would have wanted. Your graduation today shows that you have been able to withstand pressure and related stress that is associated with the training environment,” said the President.
The 21 months of intensive military training was divided into three distinct phases with a course curriculum focusing on basic soldiering skills, convectional warfare and low intensity operations. Subjects covered included Skill at Arms, Field Craft, Map Reading and Civil Military Relations.
The cadet course was also the eighth course to graduate with a diploma in Military Training and Education in association with the Midlands State University. “To this end, I commend the University for granting the Academy, Associateship Status. I urge both parties to accelerate the plans to have future courses graduating with degrees so that the Academy charms out officers with degrees,” said the President.
The President commended the course instructors for facilitating students’ visits to Chimoio Shrine in Mozambique and Freedom Camp in Zambia as part of their Civil Military Relations package.
He added that he hoped that the visit allowed the officer cadets to visualise the agonising and enduring events that characterised the struggle for the country’s hard won independence and enable them to understand the need to jealously and continuously safeguard its sovereignty.
He said, “In the same vein, the renaming of military cantonment areas after our country’s heroes such as Rogers Alfred Nikita Mangena Barracks which houses the Zimbabwe National Defence University, Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks previously KGVI Barracks and the Hebert Chitepo Barracks formerly Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade as well as the upcoming renaming of Flyde Air Force Base after the late Comrade Jaison Ziyaphapha Moyo would serve as a constant inspiration to our defence forces to emulate the character traits and attributes of these late veterans of impeccable standing and prowess.
He concluded saying, “As officers of the ZDF you are the custodians of the defence and security of this precious country as enshrined in our constitution. You need to guard and protect it jealously against any detractors, be they local or foreign.”