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Gweru
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Officer cadet makes history at Air Force

Staff Reporter
Twenty-five year-old Air Lieutenant Gamuchirai Mbigi became the first officer cadet to be bestowed with a sword of honour by the Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Emmerson Mnangagwa at Josiah Tungamirai Airbase in Gweru where he was presiding over the 68th pilot training course graduation ceremony.

This accorded her the authority to command the parade as it marched off the parade square in a clear testimony that the girl child can make it in a male-dominated field.
Air Lieutenant Mbigi joins the league of Captain Chipo Matimba who became the first female pilot to complete a pilot training course with the Air force of Zimbabwe in 1996.

Air Lieutenant Gamuchirai Mbigi said she always wanted things that are challenging and dreamt of flying when growing up.
“I always told myself that I want to control the wings in the sky. I draw a lot of inspiration from Chipo Mutimba. Whenever I see her going up the ladder, I feel inspired to do better,” she said.

The government is satisfied with the deliberate efforts being employed by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in mainstreaming gender parity, a key tenant of the country’s constitutional provisions.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Defence, Honourable Oppah Muchinguri -Kashiri said,” We are not yet there but the strides are quite commendable. The girl child has proved that she can perform better. This should go to society and demystify that flying is a field reserved for males. There are equal opportunities in the area of defence. This is the first step and we hope families out there will see defence as a lucrative area”.

Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Emmerson Mnangagwa hands over a Sword of Honour to Number 68 Pilot training course best student Air Lieutenant Gamuchirai Maria Mbigi at Josiah Tungamirai Airbase in Gweru

Guests were treated to impressive foot and plane displays with relatives of the officer cadets taking turns to express joy in the success of their loved ones.
The 68th Pilot training course, which commenced on the 20th of April 2017, had 20 officer cadets but only 15 managed to graduate after others dropped out while one perished in a plane crash during training.

Fifteen officer cadets were commissioned to become air lieutenants after successfully completing the three-course which commenced in 2017.
“I commend the Air Force of Zimbabwe for successfully carrying out this training programme in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the President.
“Through the Aircraft Recovery Project, a number of air assets, including trainer aircraft, were recovered and brought online to ensure the successful completion of the flying training programme. I, thus, applaud the Air Force of Zimbabwe for such endeavours to achieve self-sufficiency based on a vibrant research and development programme.

Air Lieutenant Gamuchirai Mbigi -Overall best student

 

“Today’s graduation is, therefore, also a celebration of the ingenuity of the Air Force of Zimbabwe as well as the diligence, persistence and hard work displayed by the young officers of Number 68 Pilot Training Course.”
President Mnangagwa pledged to support technical and operational requirements for themodernisation of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

“A more capable, well-resourced, versatile and battle-ready Air Force is a fundamental part of the realisation of the aspirations we have set for ourselves in the National Development Strategy 1 and Vision 2030.

“In this regard, my Government will continue to avail resources to support technical and operational requirements for the modernisation of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
“As I alluded to in my 2021 Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day Speech, plans are already in motion to capacitate, retool and equip the Defence Forces with appropriate military technology.”

Four Officer Cadets from this course have been selected to participate in Pilot Training Courses in China and Zambia and his Excellency expressed gratitude to the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Zambia for the opportunity.

 

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