Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)
ZDF Flag
Service branches22px ZNA
22px AFZ
Zimbabwe republic police flag.jpg ZRP
Commander in ChiefRobert Mugabe
Minister of DefenceSydney Sekeramayi
CommanderGen. Constantino Chiwenga
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 and Commander is Gen. Constantino Chiwenga. The ZDF falls under the Ministry of Defence which was established in 1994.[1] The Ministry of Defence is currently headed by Sydney Sekeramayi who was appointed September 2013.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces Leadership Structure

Structure of Leadership of Zimbabwe Defence Forces

November 2017 ZDF challenge to Zanu-PF and Government

- developing -

On 13 November 2017, following the dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa from the post vice president of Zimbabwe and from Zanu-PF days earlier, the Commander of the ZDF, Constantino Chiwenga, and other 60 generals (Except ZRP head, Augustine Chihuri) held a press conference and released a press statement warning that the military would not hesitate to step in to solve the problems in Zanu-PF that had resulted in a purge of Zanu-PF members with a liberation war background.

On the morning of 14 November, the Zanu-PF Youth League under the leadership of Kudzai Chipanga released a statement that said they were prepared to die defending the legitimate presidency of Robert Mugabe: "Defending the revolution and our Leader and President is an ideal we live for and if need be it is a principle we are prepared to die for."[2]

Later that afternoon several social media and traditional media outlets reported that several army tanks had been cited in, around and on highways leading to Harare.[3]

On the same afternoon Zanu-PF party’s national spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo issued a statement accusing Chiwenga of treasonous intentions. Khaya Moyo said in the statement that Chiwenga's utterances were meant to "incite insurrection and violent challenge to the Constitutional Order."[4]

On the night of 14 November, the military took of ZBC. On the same night, Ignatius Chombo, Augustine Chihuri and Kudzai Chipanga were reportedly arrested. Chombo's arrest involved a gunfight between his guards and the ZDF.

Early morning on 15 November Major-General Sibusiso Moyo broadcast a statement assuring Zimbabweans that Mugabe and his family were safe and that it was not a coup but a process of targeting criminal elements surrounding Mugabe.

In the afternoon of 15 November, Presidents Jacob Zuma and Muhammadu Buhari separately called for calm and peaceful engagement in Zimbabwe. Zuma also said he had spoken to Mugabe who had confirmed he was confined to his house. Zuma assured that a SADC envoy would visit Zimbabwe to meet Mugabe and the ZDF.

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 country's cabinet, the National Security Council is the supreme national policy formulating body and it's responsible for pronouncing the country's National Security Policy. It is chaired by the President, and is basically composed of the entire Cabinet.

Defence Council

It is directly below the National Security Council and its 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. Maveriq, Don’t Hide Behind The Barrel Of A Gun: Zanu- PF Youth League Tells General Chiwenga, Pindula News, Published:14 November 2017, Retrieved: 15 November 2017
  3. Tayana, Army tanks seen in and around Harare after Chiwenga warns Mugabe and Zanu-PF, Pindula News, Published:14 November 2017, Retrieved: 15 November 2017
  4. Tayana, UPDATED: “Govt will never succumb to any threats”: Zanu-PF responds to Chiwenga’s warning, Pindula News, Published:14 November 2017, Retrieved: 15 November 2017