Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
President Mugabe yesterday commissioned 136 Officer Cadets at the 33rd Regular Officer Cadet Course graduation ceremony at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in Gweru.
Of these, 29 were female and five were Namibians.
Addressing graduands and Zimbabwe Defence Forces senior officers and generals, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mugabe said ZMA would soon become an affiliate of the National Defence University following the gazetting of the National Defence University Charter by Government in March this year.
“The collaboration between the Zimbabwe Military Academy and Midlands State University enabled the graduands to study for a Diploma in Military Training and Education. As we remain indebted to Midlands State University, I would like to congratulate the Zimbabwe Defence Forces that has had the National Defence University Charter gazetted by Government in March this year, a development that will see Zimbabwe Military Academy soon become an affiliate of the National Defence University. I am reliably informed that ZMA’s future courses will be graduating with degrees offered by the National Defence University,” he said.
President Mugabe also presented Unit and Formation Colours to five army establishments which started in August last year during commemorations of the Defence Forces Day.
Unit colours or flags in the army denote a symbol of a unit or a headquarter, which is a unifying symbol and the tradition dates back to the oldest armies.
“Today’s parade is a unique one. Besides the commissioning of Regular Officer Cadet Course 3/33/15, I am greatly honoured, once again, to present Unit Colours to 5 Army establishments. These are Zimbabwe Military Academy, Zimbabwe School of infantry, All Arms Battle School, Recruit Training Depot and One Air Defence Regiment.
“This marks the conclusion of the colours presentation ceremonies, following the presentation of Unit and Formation Colours on Defence Forces Day in August, 2016. I urge all units and formations to jealously safeguard their colours and to always ensure that all new members posted to the units are familiar with the meaning and history of the Unit Colours,” he said.
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe and Namibia enjoyed cordial relations that have seen Namibian cadets enrolled at ZMA for the past seven intakes.
He said the cooperation between defence forces also enhanced security in the Sadc region.
“In light of our cordial relationship with the Republic of Namibia, the ZMA has for the past seven intakes enrolled a number of Namibia’s cadets to train simultaneously with our own cadets. This cooperation between defence forces enhances security in our two countries and the Sadc region,” he said.
President Mugabe also commended the resilience of the 29 female officer cadets who graduated among the regular officer cadets yesterday.
He said their participation bolstered Government’s efforts for gender equality in all spheres of operation.
“Allow me to commend the resilience of 29 women officer cadets among the graduands who withstood the immense pressure associated with the officer cadet training. Their participation in this course bolsters Government’s efforts to achieve its target of gender equality in all spheres of operation. I urge other young women to join the so-called male-dominated careers. There is no doubt that the special 29 endured the course curriculum which was physically and psychologically taxing,” he said.
President Mugabe said the regular officer cadet training course also helped officers to have an in-depth knowledge of the brutality that characterised the struggle of independence.
“They (officer cadets) were afforded an opportunity to appreciate the challenges and sacrifices made by freedom fighters, some of whom paid the supreme sacrifice with their lives, while others were permanently maimed and remain traumatised,” he said.
At least 167 officer cadets were enrolled at ZMA in September 2015 and of those 136 were commissioned yesterday after 31 dropped for various reasons while two died in an accident while returning from their routine course breaks.