Zimbabwe Defence Forces

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Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)
Flag of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.svg
ZDF Flag
Service branchesZNA
Commander in ChiefEmmerson Mnangagwa
Minister of DefenceOppah Muchinguri-Kashiri
CommanderGen. Philip Valerio Sibanda
Available for
military service
5,500,000, age 15–49 (2017)
Fit for
military service
3,175,000, age 15–49 (2017)
Reaching military
age annually
310,000 (2017)
Active personnel30,000; plus 21,800 paramilitary

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces is the grouping of security forces in the Republic of Zimbabwe under which the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) fall. The Commander in Chief of ZDF is the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe or Emmerson Mnangagwa and Commander was General Philip Valerio Sibanda. The ZDF falls under the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs and was established in 1994. [1] The Ministry of Defence in 2023 was headed by Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

See also Zimbabwe Army and Pay Records.


Congo Wars - Zimbabwe

The Congo Wars resulted from the Rwanda Civil War which starting in 1990, and ended in the Rwanda Genocide in 1994.
The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) - which included Paul Kagame and was predominantly Tutsi, began operations in 1990 against President Juvenal Habyarimani (a Hutu). The losers, Hutu extremists, those guilty of genocide, the former Rwanda army, and many Hutu refugees, fled to eastern Zaire. They attempted to continue the war.

The new Rwandan army then invaded Zaire in 1996 to remove Hutu/Interhamwe militias forming in the refugee camps. The Alliance des Forces Démocratiques por la Libération du Congo (AFDL) came in to being. The ADFL, often not stopped by the disintegrating Zaire Army, drove across Zaire to Kinshasa, from where Mobutu left in May 1997. Laurent Kabila was then installed as leader of the DRC. [2]

The Second Congo War started in July 1998, with Kabila attempting to remove the Ugandans and Rwandans from the DRC.
The Lusaka Agreement was negotiated in July 1999, but it was not respected and the war continued. The elections in the USA in 2000 brought in a new President and administration who forced the Lusaka agreement to be implemented through January 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated in Kinshasa, and Joseph Kabila (his son and successor) brought the conflict to an end.

Cosleg Private Limited was formed at the start of the the Second Congo War to help fund the ZDF for Operation Sovereign Legitimacy oprations. Company Operation Sovereign Legitimacy (Colsleg) was formed between Robert Mugabe and Laurent Kabila. The CEO was Emmerson Mnangagwa.

November 2017 ZDF challenge to Zanu-PF and Government

The ZDF was involved in the November 2017 Military Coup.

Role of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces

The Constitution of Zimbabwe defines the role of ZDF as follows:

  • to defend Zimbabwe's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests.
  • to participate in the creation of common regional security architecture.
  • to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and stability.
  • to provide military assistance to civil authority in times of need.

ZDF's Policy Formulation Structures

National Security Council

Chaired by the president and composed of the cabinet, the National Security Council is the supreme national policy formulating body and it is responsible for pronouncing the country's National Security Policy.

Defence Council

It is directly below the National Security Council and it's function is to generate and pronounce National Defence Policy. It is constituted of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, State Security Minister, Defence Minister, the Home Affairs and Finance Ministers with the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces chairing it. The Service Chiefs and Director General in the President's Department are ex-officio members.

Defence Committee

This committee is chaired by the Minister of Defence. It is composed of the Permanent Secretary for Defence, Commander Defence Forces, Commander Zimbabwe National Army and Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe. The Committee can also incorporate representatives of other Security Ministries.


There are six Defence Staff Sub­ committees below the Defence Committee. These deal with Defence Policy, Operations, Programming and Planning, Manpower, Logistics, Acquisition and Equipment Approval. Policy recommendations and implementation reports flow upwards from the Defence Staff Sub­ committees, while policy directives flow downwards from the National Defence Council.


  1. ZDF Official website, ZDF, Published: Unknown, Retrieved: 14 November 2017
  2. [Stearns, Jason K Dancing In The Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and The Great War of Africa], Public Affairs, (Public Affairs, New York, 2012), Retrieved: 4 October 2022

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