- Southern Africa
Zimbabwe: Fear grips village over army drills
Zimbabwe National Army on Friday conducted rare military drills in public in which commanders said it was a “show of power and to test new conventional warfare concepts”.
The drills, fashioned along the lines of Iran, drew the whole army commandership on Friday to Godlwayo Field Firing Range in Matabeleland province, the southern part of the country.
On display were heavy artillery, including multiple rocket launchers, an EE9 cascavel tanker, anti-air craft machine guns as well as small arms.
Commander of the ZNA, Lieutenant- General Philip Velario Sibanda is proud of the displays and assured his countrymen that “the army is ready to defend the borders at any time”.
“We have a disciplined army, people who are ready to defend the nation at any time against any invader no matter how powerful they might be. People can sleep peacefully,” said Sibanda.
The general said the quality of ZNA soldiers is very high.
“ Most shots were on target and the assault troops did very well. They were using live ammunition,” he added.
However, panic gripped villages near the test site as no pre-announcement was issued.
The military manoeuvres coincided with the start of public constitutional hearing countrywide which has been marred with violence amid reports of intimidation by war veterans and that the party has set up camps mostly in rural areas.
Villagers thought the drills, conducted by the army which is heavily linked with President Mugabe’s Zanu PF were meant to scare them into giving views in support of Zanu PF.