The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) is a people’s army, and this was shown during Operation Restore Legacy, ZDF Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda has said.


Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Mail on his elevation to the post, Gen Sibanda said warm exchanges between servicemen and the general citizenry signified sound relations.

He said he would continue championing professionalism in the ZDF’s rank and file, setting up an organised military that always stands for the people.

“We have always said we are a people’s defence force. We relate with the people and the people relate to us. That is what you saw on that Saturday (November 18, 2017).

“That was just a manifestation of something that we are already very much aware of.

‘‘We have a very good relationship with the people of Zimbabwe and will continue to do so.”

Gen Sibanda said the ZDF was still receiving plaudits from armies in Southern Africa for ably steering Operation Restore Legacy without blood on the floor.

He highlighted that the force will adopt new capability-enhancing programmes in keeping with latest military innovations.

“(Sister military organisations) have been congratulating us and wishing us well going forward. They were generally happy that the operation did not have any bloodshed; that had been their major concern.

“Regarding my tenure; I will continue programmes that are already in place, programmes that my predecessor (General Constantino Guveya Nyikadzino Chiwenga), who is now State Vice-President, put in place.

“With time, of course, I will introduce programmes I will have seen as a requirement of the time. But right now, I am going to look at what is there and run with those programmes until they come to their logical conclusion.”

Added Gen Sibanda: “We already have a vision and that is to be a professional, well-organised and capable force that will deliver to the expectations of the people of Zimbabwe. I don’t think there is anything we want to add to that vision at this stage. We will, of course, modify it as we go along.

“Remember, nothing is static; everything around an organisation’s vision is dynamic. So, as we move into the future, we will see whether there is need to change any organisational structures. We will see whether that has an effect on our vision. But right now, we have a vision that is good enough and we will run with it.”

The ZDF will provide education-advancement opportunities to officers.

“I am not sure whether we are doing any much more than what other countries are doing. Maybe (advocating education) is more pronounced as it’s happening in our country. Maybe the other countries’ defence forces are doing as well and as much as we are.

“But we realise that there are opportunities for those who did not complete their education or who did not get to a certain level with their education; whether they are ex-combatants or not. Opportunities are there and we are taking advantage of them.”

The ZDF rolled out Operation Restore Legacy from November 13 to December 18, 2017 to weed out a clique around former President Robert Mugabe which fomented instability and fuelled widespread angst.

Multitudes marched on the streets on November 18 in solidarity with war veterans and the ZDF’s popular political and socio-economic intervention.

Mugabe stepped down on November 21 and President Emmerson Mnangagwa ascended to the top job, with the United Nations, African Union and Sadc approving of the peaceful transition.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission described the operation as “timely”, saying no human rights violations were reported.

Gen Sibanda took over the ZDF command upon Gen Chiwenga’s retirement two weeks ago.



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