BY Nelson Chamisa
Yesterday was an important day, a historic day, one penned in the history of the birth of our nation Zimbabwe by the sacrifices and toil of many men, women and children who paid the ultimate price to liberate this nation.
To our revered uniformed forces, to all our men and women in uniform of all ranks — top to bottom, we love and honour you all. I salute you, our dedicated men and women in uniform on the occasion of this special day, a day to celebrate our Defence Forces.
Indeed, I salute and duly acknowledge the unstinting and committed service that you, our patriotic security services, continue to render to our beloved beautiful country — Zimbabwe, even under extremely difficult circumstances and challenges.
Soldiers, like the Police Service, Prison Service and Intelligence Service are badges of patriotism, symbols of the State and embodiment of the collective will of a people. The security forces are above party politics. You stand for the country, not a party.
Except in rare moments when partisan politics toxifies the esteemed Defence Forces establishment, I, with pride and honour, salute our men and women in uniform for their versatility and adeptness in defending national and regional security.
I really love and am moved by the piece in the song by the Defence forces, ‘We love Zimbabwe and all its wealth..Mothers and Fathers are in them. Stand up Zimbabwe! ‘Tinoda Zimbabwe neupfumi hwayo hwose. Vana Mai nanaBaba ndimo mavari. Simuka Zimbabwe! ‘Sifuna iZimbabwe lenotho yayo yonke. Bobaba labomama yini abanikazi bomnotho weLizwe. Phakama Zimbabwe Phakama.’
As a nation, we fought a just war of liberation and the dedication, sacrifice and patriotism of the sons and daughters of this land deserve our veneration and utmost respect. We are a liberation nation, a freedom nation and warrior nation and a God-fearing nation.
No country in the world has prospered and will ever prosper without a strong disciplined, progressive, well resourced, well paid, well-fed and patriotic uniformed force behind it. Even prior to our independence, the success of pre-colonial African States depended largely upon strong military support.
There are many examples in Africa and even in Zimbabwe, the Mutapa State, the Rozvi Dynasty, the Zulu State, the Ndebele State and the Mandinka empire in WestAfrica (under Mansa Sundiata Keita, who founded the empire), to mention a few.
Whereas the courts are the guardians and guarantors of justice and rule of law, our security forces are the guarantors of our sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, citizens dignity, freedoms and liberty.
As our security forces you are the protectors and defenders of our safety and security. As the uniformed force you are the protector of our resources, protector of our heritage, protector of independence, protector of the citizens, protector of our people and indeed protectors of our sovereignty and dignity as a people.
We recognise and cherish this important role you have played and continue to play. You do this for the benefit of your beloved country and not for the benefit of a political leader or individual politicians. Politicians come and go, serve and leave, but you are a permanent citizens’ institution. You are patriots. Patriotism is non-partisan.
As citizens coalesce for change, we affirm our respect and honour to you our national pride. We salute you as one of our national institutions, a people’s institution a citizens’ institution. And as patriotic men and women, you have volunteered to play a patriotic role in national identity, growth and self determination.
We are aware of your challenges, circumstances and predicament in resources, livelihoods and welfare.
Nonetheless, as the citizens coalesce for change throughout the country, we commit to you that we will respect you and honour you for volunteering to serve us.
We will honour and respect you by shaming and condemning those who seek to undermine the great you have been for our great country. We will honour and respect you by advocating and providing decent wages and living conditions commensurate with the pivotal and vital role you play and responsibilities you bear.
Above all, we will advocate that you have a fair share of our resources, decent housing and title deeds.
We will honour and respect you by condemning the unnecessary, unwarranted and unmerited purging or discrimination on tribal and patronage basis at the expense of merit and service.
Most importantly, at an individual level you are part and parcel of the citizens. You are eminent citizens. As we coalesce for this historic change, we do so with you as citizens and together with your grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and all relatives scattered around the country and globe.
We do so above all with you as the protectors and guarantors of citizens’ freedoms. Right to free speech, Right to freedom of association, including political association. No one should ever be imprisoned or persecuted for holding a different political viewpoint or for telling truth to power. On that I call for the cessation of hostilities and an immediate release of all victims of political persecution.
We promise and commit that we will work well with you for the transformation, betterment and development of our great country as we build our great nation. The citizens’ government will be a patriotic government. The citizens’ government will not only push for a robust accelerated economic development, but will also invest in the security of the nation.
Rest assured, the future Government of Zimbabwe will not go back on the values for which our veterans sacrificed. Values of Right to Self Determination, Right to Vote, Rights to our mineral wealth, rights to land with title deeds. As the citizens’ government, with will stand shoulder to shoulder with our heroes in the service of this great nation, and rest assured, there is no reversal of the land acquisition,
Our citizens’ army must and shall be the strongest and well-resourced army in the region. Every Zimbabwean must feel protected and be assured to be defended. We will put money and invest in our security-citizens’ security.
I salute you and the people of Zimbabwe who gave their children, their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts to liberate and protect this great nation. Let us build and work together for a better and prosperous Zimbabwe.
God bless our Defence and Security Forces!
- Nelson Chamisa is a Zimbabwean politician and the current President of the Citizens Coalition For Change He writes here in his own capacity.