THE Defence Forces are a cornerstone of State and human security in both peace time and when a country faces internal or external threats.
In an article titled, “Peacetime Engagement: Devising the Army’s Role,” published in 1992, Cole C. Kingseed says of the army: “The Army’s fundamental purposes must always be to deter war and, if deterrence fails, to achieve victory on the battlefield.”
While the primary duty of the Defence Forces remains protecting the country’s territorial integrity, they play a critical role in complementing Government in implementing peace time objectives.
Kingseed further notes that while fighting a nation’s wars remains the Defence Forces principal mission, “peacetime engagement presents a new approach for the Army to assist in meeting the nation’s peacetime objectives.”
It is in light of this view that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) outreach mass Covid-19 vaccination of members of the public should be appreciated and commended.
The initiative by the ZDF is meant to complement Government efforts to accelerate vaccination in order for the country to achieve herd immunity should be appreciated and commended.
The programme is part of the ZDF Community Assistance Week ahead of the ZDF Day commemorations set for next Tuesday.
Annually during the ZDF Community Assistance Week, the military embarks on several projects where it assists communities in line with its constitutional mandate to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests, its territorial integrity and to uphold the Constitution.
In the past the ZDF has constructed schools, clinics, rehabilitated roads and bridges as well as repaired infrastructure after disasters such as floods.
In Bulawayo, the ZDF is complementing Government and Bulawayo City Council that have established 33 stationary vaccination centres and 29 mobile ones but are pushing for more due to the overwhelming response.
The ZDF vaccination programme which started yesterday, will run for seven days.
Soldiers in the health sector will be vaccinating residents in Cowdray Park and Emganwini suburbs. In Cowdray Park the ZDF vaccination team is stationed at Hlalani Kuhle Consortium Offices while in Emganwini the team is outside Food 4 Less shops.
The residents said bringing the vaccination programme closer to the communities would see more people coming forward to be vaccinated.
Bulawayo is targeting to vaccinate at least 400 000 residents to achieve herd immunity.
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Headquarters Bulawayo District Commander Colonel Ossie Olie Mhandu said the deployment of military personnel to assist communities is within the ZDF mandate.
“This is our ZDF Community Assistant Week, besides providing defence to the nation, ZDF also plays a very important role in assisting the civil community. We support the communities within greater Bulawayo as Headquarters Bulawayo District. This is part of our duties during the first week of August where we conduct community assistance programmes,” said Col Mhandu.
She said the country, like the rest of the world, was grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and as ZDF they were complementing Government efforts to protect the people through vaccination.
“We have deployed our teams to Bulawayo’s Emganwini and Cowdray Park suburbs to vaccinate members of the public,” said Col Mhandu.
She encouraged citizens to take advantage of the vaccination teams that are in their area for a whole week.
“We appeal to all eligible residents to come forward and get vaccinated. We are not forcing anyone but I would encourage all eligible residents to get vaccinated. This is free of charge. This will assist us as a country to effectively combat the spread of the pandemic when we achieve herd immunity. We all need to embrace the vaccination programme because people are dying every day from this pandemic,” she said.
Residents are encouraged therefore to utilise this extra hand provided by the ZDF to get vaccinated against the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic.
It is only when the country achieves herd immunity that life can get back to normal and fully recover from the effects of Covid-19 on all aspects.
As the country, moves towards the celebration of Heroes Day on Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day on Monday and Tuesday respectively, the initiative by the ZDF is testimony to the close connection between the security forces and the community.
The patriotism shown by the ZDF is commendable as it inspires a sense of pride and affirms the security forces as the country’s last line of defence at all times.
In an address to the nation to mark Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Day last year, President Mnangagwa hailed the ZDF for professionally executing its constitutional mandate and in the process ensuring that peace prevails in the country for socio-economic development.
“The ZDF has since its formation acquitted itself with distinction and high professionalism and for this they deserve a big compliment.
Zimbabwe has continued to enjoy peace largely attributable to the ZDF’s vigilance, loyalty, commitment and dedication to their constitutional obligation of defending the country and its people.
“The resultant peace and tranquillity has provided a great stimulus for socio-economic development over the years,” he said.