Natural disasters threaten national security

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Natural disasters threaten national security
 Minister of Defence Cde Oppah Muchinguri- Kashiri (right) chats with Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda (centre) and Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Marshal John Jacob Nzvede during a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Charles Muchakagara

Columbus Mabika

Herald Reporter

RECURRING natural disasters hitting Zimbabwe and the region in recent years are quickly becoming the biggest threat to a state’s national security, whose impact requires a multi sectoral approach to mitigate, the Minister of Defence, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, said yesterday.

 The region was in the middle of a food security crisis after experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. Zimbabwe and the region had, in recent years, been experiencing recurring natural disasters linked to climate change. These disasters were punctuated by irregular rainfall patterns that result in droughts and floods.

As a result, Defence Forces in the region were increasingly becoming involved in operations aimed at mitigating the impact of these calamites through search and rescue operations, distribution of relief aid and evacuation of casualties.

Speaking at the graduation of Junior Staff Course 80 at Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the study of natural disasters in the military should be fully prioritised.

“The country and region have in recent years been experiencing recurring natural disasters linked to climate change. These disasters are punctuated by irregular rainfall patterns that result in droughts and floods, “ she said.

“Some of these tasks call for a different set of capabilities and skills among our defence and security forces, I challenge the military and college to design a curriculum that accommodates the emerging realities, these contemporary security challenges and proffer appropriate counter strategies.”

“The world is currently grappling with emerging defence and security challenges of our times which include non-traditional threats such as human and drug trafficking smuggling, cyber security threats, a proliferation of fake news, misinformation and disinformation as well as recurring natural disasters. 

“Some of these threats transcend national borders, which therefore calls for stronger bilateral and multilateral defence and security co-operation.”

To counter food insecurity arising from natural disasters, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government through the National Development Strategy 1 had invested heavily in water projects to stimulate agricultural activities.

“In a drive to mitigate against the effects of droughts, enhance productivity and ensure food security, Government embarked on a rigorous programme to build dams and set up irrigation and borehole facilities across the country and in response to this quest, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has introduced agricultural projects, which include animal husbandry and crop production, in order to meet its own food requirements. Plans are at an advanced stage to set up aquaculture projects, given the abundant water resource base that Zimbabwe commands,” she said.

Turning to women empowerment, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is walking the talk as witnessed by the cohort of 20 percent women in the graduating course.

She said pursuant to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, Peace and Security, Zimbabwe recently launched a national action plan on women to increase and promote the role of women in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peace building at all levels of peace and security processes.

Under NDS1, Government had embarked on a drive to narrow the country’s infrastructural gap, by upgrading the country’s road network, and constructing schools and health facilities.

In this regard, she said plans are also afoot to establish a Zimbabwe Defence Forces construction brigade which will compete with established civilian construction companies in national infrastructural projects, in the construction of roads, dams, bridges, houses.

The commissioning of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Hospital at Manyame Airforce Base scheduled to take place this year, she said, was going to be a game changer in the health sector. It was a world-class state of the art health facility installed for the benefit of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and their dependants.

On border security, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government was working on improving the security at borders through an integrated border management system which would include employment of sophisticated technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles and drones.

On ZDF economic prospects, she said now that the Zimbabwe Defence Industries was off the sanctions regime, there was a need to set a road map of a new trajectory for it to take its rightful place in the region by becoming a net exporter of defence equipment, machinery, ammunition and explosives, in addition to equipping the ZDF and other security services.

“Zimbabwe will soon be the largest producer of iron and steel in Africa, following the setting up of the Manizhe plant in Mashonaland East Province. This should be a source of inspiration for the modernisation and mechanisation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces through the Zimbabwe Defence industries,” Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said.