UN, S. Sudan hail Zim peacekeeping efforts

Phyllis Kachere, recently in JUBA, South Sudan
Zimbabwe has received acclamation from the United Nations and the South Sudanese government for contributing the highest police contingent of highly -skilled personnel towards efforts to maintain peace and security.

In an interview in Juba, the South Sudan capital on Friday, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Police Chief of Staff Girmay Gebrekidan praised Zimbabwe for seconding 38 Zimbabwe Republic Police members as peacekeepers in that country.

Zimbabwe’s contingent of 38 is the largest contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping mission. It also has the largest female composition of 13.

“I have worked with the Zimbabwean police contingent for the last three years where they have excelled in peacekeeping duties. You will find Zimbabwean police in all areas of expertise.

“You will find Zimbabweans in planning, human resources management, rotation, civilian protection, community policing, assessment, in fact you find Zimbabwe police members in all the components of the United Nations Police.

“The officers are highly-skilled and professional and all have a mission to make a difference in peacekeeping. I am particularly pleased with the high number of the females in the Zimbabwean contingent,” said Chief of Staff Gebrekidan.

Mr Gebrekidan gave an example of former police peace keeper Chief Inspector Kufa Mapurani, who is now based at Police General Headquarters in Harare for diligent work.

The Chief of Staff said when Chief Inspector Mapurani was in South Sudan for a similar effort, he single-handedly worked under him and did the job of four officers who were yet to be deployed.

The Chief of Staff said ZRP contingent had the highest number of female officers in the UNMISS, making the work of the mission easier to handle as women officers play a critical role on conflict areas where issues of rape and domestic violence top the authorities’ concern.

“The role women play in UN peacekeeping operations is critical to the protection of civilians in the conflict-affected country of South Sudan. The work of the ZRP police officers in the protection of civilians’ sites (POCs) particularly as they work with women and children has been excellent. We have never dealt with a disciplinary issue involving Zimbabwe police officers,” he said.

He paid tribute to President Mnangagwa’s Government for recognising the importance of contributing to peacekeeping efforts in conflict areas.

In a separate interview, South Sudan Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro also paid tribute to Zimbabwe’s contribution to peacekeeping efforts in his country.

“Zimbabwe and South Sudan relations date back to our days of liberation when our late leader Dr John Garang formed deep relations with the people of Zimbabwe.

“The contribution of Zimbabwe to the peacekeeping efforts and protection of civilians in our country is greatly valued by the government of South Sudan and its people.

“It is unfortunate that we have not nurtured our bilateral relations because of the open conflict we have been experienced amongst ourselves. I am confident that with the peace agreement that our political leaders have signed, we should pursue vigorously our bilateral relations for mutual benefit.

“South Sudan has vast opportunities for Zimbabwe business people. We can form partnerships in agriculture, mining, tourism, wildlife management and a host of other areas,” said Minister Lomuro.

The major political players recently signed a peace agreement with a transitional government expected to be in place early next year.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Edward Chinoza said the country’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan is a source of pride for him.

“Zimbabwe has contributed to the peacekeeping efforts in this country since 2011 and reports that I have received from the UN Secretary-General Special Representative and head of UNMISS here Mr David Shearer show that Zimbabwe has excelled in its duties. They have done exceedingly well.

“The current contingent came here in 2016. And they had their time extended. They will be leaving in two weeks’ time.

“That Zimbabwe has been called by the UN to participate in peacekeeping duties reflects a high level of discipline and training on the part of ZRP. It shows a high level of leadership on the ZRP and the country,” said Ambassador Chinoza.