THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) is playing a seminal role in the country’s Covid-19 response by assisting health authorities in different ways to combat the pandemic, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.
Presenting a paper at the high-level 9th Moscow Conference on International Security which was graced by Russian President, Vladimir Putin, last week, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said some of the strategies formulated by the Government in combating Covid-19 were strengthened by the army’s involvement.
In the presentation titled, “Zimbabwe’s effort in fighting Covid-19 pandemic and the role of military security service”, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said:
“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has been in the frontline against the scourge, under the co-ordination of the Civil Protection Unit. As part of its constitutional mandate, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is required to assist the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other quasi-government departments in times of emergencies.
“The legislative articles that authorise this secondary role provide that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces should be subservient to civil authorities. Under the Public Health Act, the Defence Forces were empowered to enforce lockdown measures, complementing the Zimbabwe Republic Police.”
She noted that in addition to helping with the adherence to regulations, the ZDF has availed its experts to assist with dispensing medical service to those in need.
“The military also deployed its Medical Corp to assist hospitals in managing Covid-19 cases.
“The deployment on Covid-19 duties exposed the members and their families to the pandemic.
“Therefore, apart from contributing to the national effort in combating Covid-19, the Zimbabwe Defence Force is also ramping up measures to protect its members and their dependants,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
She predicted that across the world, Defence Forces will be more involved in responding to natural disasters and unforeseen events.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said for this to be a sustainable concept, army personnel should be willing to submit to civilian leadership.
She also encouraged the strengthening of multilateral and bilateral defence co-operation, as some situations may need collaborative responses by countries.
Zimbabwe was among the few countries to be granted a platform to make presentations at the conference which saw about 700 delegates from 109 countries converging to discuss different issues relating to defence approaches, trends and challenges.
During peacetime, the ZDF is mandated, under its secondary roles, to participate in community assistance programmes and to provide support to Ministries.
The ZDF has been helping police officers to man roadblocks, while also raising awareness on Covid-19.
Furthermore, the ZDF has also been producing Personal Protective Equipment in the fight against the pandemic.
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