By Ketty Nyoni

THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) have started a major one month-long training exercise, which involves the movement of soldiers to Mashonaland Central.

ZDF director general for policy, public relations and international affairs, Brigadier General Augustine Chipwere, said yesterday that Zimbabweans should not be concerned by the “normal exercise”.

He added that the scheduled drills were meant to sharpen the army’s skills and were similar to the exercise which was held in Masvingo last year.

“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces would like to inform the general public that it will be conducting a training exercise in Bindura, Mbire, Muzarabani, Rushinga, Shamva and Mt Darwin districts of Mashonaland Central Province from 22 September to 21 October 2022.

“This year’s training exercise is a follow up to a similar exercise conducted in Masvingo Province in 2021.
“The training exercise is meant to sharpen and perfect operational skills so as to enhance the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ capability to fulfill its mandate.

“The exercise involves the movement of a large number of troops and vehicles from Harare into Mashonaland Central Province … the general populace should not be surprised by these movements,” Chipwere said.

He also assured the public that the army would put measures to ensure that the drills would not disrupt the public’s day-to-day business in the province.

“The ZDF calls for co-operation from members of the public and the business community in the areas where the exercise will be conducted.

“Every precaution necessary will be taken to avoid the disruption of the normal day-to-day business for the locals and to prevent damage to livestock and property.

“Members of the public are free to contact the director of public relations in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mutizhe … for any inquiries with regards to the exercise,” Chipwere added.

This comes as memories remain fresh regarding the stunning 15 November 2017 military operation which swept the late former president Robert Mugabe from power when the army rolled its tanks into Harare.

In the build-up to that historic development, social media was awash with images of armoured military vehicles and tanks which were captured as they made their way to the capital city.

This was at the height of the ruling Zanu PF’s tribal, factional and succession wars then. Those brutal party wars were ended in dramatic fashion by the military — after they decided that they had had enough of Mugabe and his erratic wife Grace.

By then, the ruling party’s Generation 40 (G40) faction had succeeded in having the then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked from both the government and Zanu PF — just as they had done with former vice president Joyce Mujuru in 2014.

The vicious party brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Grace’s high-octane youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.

Mnangagwa’s fate was eventually sealed on 6 November 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant a few days after his allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.