General Solly Zacharia Shoke
Visiting South African National Defence Forces Commander General Solly Zacharia Shoke has hailed the assistance rendered by Zimbabwe’s Defence Forces in training and integration of their army since the fall of apartheid.
Gen Shoke said this at a dinner hosted for him by his Zimbabwean counterpart General Constantine Chiwenga at KGVI Barracks on Tuesday.
« I want to thank you today for the role that your officers have played to help build our air force. We appreciate the role that you have played, the problems we are facing today are the problems that you faced a long time ago.
« We are a new democracy and we have our own teething problems and I think we still have a lot to learn from you. We should not be shy to ask, » Gen Shoke said. He said Zimbabwe and South Africa shared the same history of colonialism and struggle for independence that resulted in the loss of lives.
« We belong to the region of Southern Africa and we have a responsibility to see that the region succeeds. We wish and pray that we achieve economic recovery because a Zimbabwe that is stable also has a positive effect on us, » he said.
Gen Chiwenga said interaction between defence forces in Sadc was critical.
« As we interact, we need to remain cognisant of the fact that this is not just a platform to compare notes on defence and security issues, but it is also a forum to strengthen relations in view of the emerging common threats to our individual countries and as members of Sadc, » Gen Chiwenga said.
He added that Zimbabwe and South Africa should remain vigilant of machinations by the West to recolonise the continent.
« We should be reminded that our former colonisers will continue to be influenced by the imperial and capitalist motives whose strong desire is to control and own the abundant natural resources that our two countries are endowed with.
« We should therefore jealously guard against recolonisation and exploitation of our God given natural resources, » Gen Chiwenga said.
He said the US and their Western allies had imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe after it moved to repossess its land.
« These sanctions have brought untold suffering to our people who, despite the harsh economic conditions, have remained resilient in their quest to defend and protect their sovereign birth right, which undoubtedly is the land and everything associated with it, » he said.
The ZDF commander also commended various joint peace keeping training courses that have been carried out by Sadc forces.
Gen Shoke arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday on a five-day official visit.