Senior SA National Defence Force Officers Graduate from Zimbabwe Staff College Joint Command and Staff Course Class of 2016

Article by Lieutenant Colonel Lufuno Mafune, SA Army College and Lieutenant Marumo Machete, SA Army Corporate Communication

Three South African National Defence Force senior officers graduated from the prestigious Zimbabwe Staff College during a ceremony presided over by Head of State, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwean Defence Forces, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe on November 26, 2016.

The three senior officers; Lieutenant Colonel Lufuno Mafune from the SA Army Air Defence Artillery Formation, Lieutenant Colonel Batshele Mazibuko from the SA Army Infantry Formation and Lieutenant Colonel Tebogo Toodi from the SA Air Force were enrolled on the 2016 Joint Command and Staff Course (JCSC) that ran from January 4 until November 26.

The Joint Command and Staff Course accommodated 56 learners with 16 coming from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Nigeria. The three senior officers from South Africa exploited the foreign learning opportunity provided by the SANDF to empower themselves with vital skills necessary to negotiate intricate people management, leadership and command function within a dynamic military.

Speaking at the end-course ceremony where he personally handed over the PSC ‘ZW’ qualification certificate, President Mugabe commended the commitment of all learners on course and the directing staff at the college for a job well done.

His Excellency President Mugabe congratulated the class of 2016 for attaining a 100-percent pass rate which he jokingly referred to as ‘upon-upon’, an expression they used during his schooling days.

President Mugabe hailed the cooperation of other SADC member states and others across the world who contributed towards Zimbabwe Staff College’s successful hosting of JCSC. He also praised the People’s Republic of China for rendering support to ZSC and his country.

“Zimbabwe remains grateful to China for its continued technical support to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces”, President Mugabe said.

He described China as an “all-time ally and all-weather friend” of Zimbabwe, thanking the Asian country for its secondment of highly professional staff to the Zimbabwe Staff College in the form People’s Liberation Army Training Team (PLATT).

President Mugabe also commended the capacity of Zimbabwe Staff College to professionally host a number of foreign learners at a programme pitched at a standard as high as that at his country’s premier defence training institution.

President Mugabe also hinted that the next course would have a student from Kenya. The 2016 programme had learners from as far as Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia.

The Zimbabwe Staff College’s Joint Command and Staff Course was divided into three learning terms; the first term starting from January until April, second term from May until August and the last term beginning in September running until November. The training is pitched at the operational level of war with emphasis on joint and multinational operations. All training during the programme is practically oriented, with the basis on the application and realisation of operational concepts.

The programme covers both planning and presentation of plans for the decision making process, the Estimate Process and the implementation of operational plans. An in-depth analysis of past and present campaigns is undertaken and Allied Students are encouraged to be creative, think deeper and apply their minds on given scenarios. The primary emphasis in the course is placed on development and holistic evaluation of the student’s competencies on subjects of the programme.

During the first segment of the programme, named the Joint Foundation Term, the students were made to demonstrate their understanding of each Service’s contribution to joint functions at the operational level. The term, which focuses on both formative and summative assessment as well as peer and self-assessment tackles mainly Corporate Management, Security Studies and the theoretical base for joint warfare. The term culminates in what is called a Domestic Infrastructure Study Visit (DISV) which looks at the drivers of the Zimbabwean economy where a tour is undertaken covering areas like Masvingo, Zvishawane, Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe and finally culminating at Kariba where an end-of-tour function was hosted.

Term two; a single service term tested students on their ability to apply the gained knowledge, capabilities and procedures to all deployments at the operational level. Subjects in this term were unique to each military service and focused on the roles of each service in conventional warfare but within a joint and multinational environment.

Students were afforded an opportunity to focus on tactical principles and procedures in offensive and defensive operations. This is a practical term that looked at conventional warfare with emphasis on a number of joint lessons covering air, naval and land warfare.

Lieutenant Colonel Toodi, an SA Air Force officer prosecuted air warfare while Lieutenant Colonels Mafune and Mazibuko were on the land warfare theatre. Like other terms in the Zimbabwe Staff College’s JCSC, this leg of the course culminated with an external study tour. The course visited four different countries; Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria on a geo-political studies intervention to amplify the continental understanding of the students. Lieutenant Colonel Mafune and Lieutenant Colonel Toodi visited the Federal Republic of Nigeria whilst Lieutenant Colonel Mazibuko had the privilege to visit the Republic of Ghana.

During the last phase of the programme, termed a Joint Advanced Term, the students were taken through the application of operational art in the planning and employment of joint and combined forces within the spectrum of Low Intensity Operations, Military Aid to Civil Power and Civil Ministries. The term focused on joint planning and formulation of concepts for Low Intensity Operations. The main forms of assessment during this phase were formative, self-assessment and other summative assessment techniques. This term empowered the students on the internal operations and applicable concepts in Low Intensity Conflict, UN Peace Support Operations, Geopolitics and the Management of Training. The term’s highlight was the submission of a dissertation supervised by professional lecturers from the University of Zimbabwe.
 
The Joint Command and Staff Course programme was not all study and a dull affair. The students had time to relax and wind down whilst also learning one another’s cultures and traditions during the Zimbabwe Staff College’s Cultural Day.

The College Cultural Day, an important day on the institution’s calendar was graced by the South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Mr N.M. Mbete – who acted as a pillar of support the South African delegation of students. During the Cultural Day, students showcased their respective cultures by displaying wares, artifacts and even prepared dishes from their respective countries.

The students went on to showcase the diverse cultures in the SADC region as well as the ECOWAS, represented by Nigeria. Lieutenant Colonel Mafune was given the responsibility to share the various rich cultures of the South African people. The lively event saw colourful displays from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Training Team, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and host Zimbabwe. Different Cultural groups entertained those in attendance through music and dance. 

The three senior officers from the SA National Defence Force were exposed to a rich and comprehensive curriculum that will stand them in good stead as they assume senior leadership positions and are appointed in the higher echelons of our military. Their attendance at Zimbabwe Staff College was thanks to the cordial bi-lateral military relations South Africa enjoys with the host country. Zimbabwean Defence Force officers also reciprocate by attending military programmes in South Africa.

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