ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE INSTITUTE
The Institute of Strategic Research and Analysis (ISRA) serving as the national think-tank, provides a platform for research and analysis on emerging challenges at the national, regional and international arena. To achieve its mandate the institute is configured as follows:
a. Research and Analysis Department.
b. Seminars and Workshops Department.
c. Defence Doctrine Department.
The Institute was established at the inception of the National Defence College in 2012 and is the centre for all ZNDU academic research. It was transformed to the Zimbabwe National Defence University in March 2017. The Institute carries out research, conducts seminars/workshops, and contributes towards the upholding of national interests at all levels, in collaboration with similar national and international institutions. In broad terms, ISRA’s function is to carry out research, prepare and conduct seminars/workshops/conferences, for informed decision making. In addition, the Institute takes a lead role in shaping the defence doctrine within the framework of the national security architecture.
To be the leading research institute in global, defence and security matters pursuant to national interests, fostering nation building and driving social, economic and political cohesion and stability.
To spearhead research and analysis on strategic, national and international defence and security issues for the ZNDU.
ISRA’S PLACE IN THE NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY SYSTEM
The Institute of Strategic Research and Analysis (ISRA) is a critical component of the Zimbabwe National Defence University (ZNDU). It is established within the ZNDU as a think-tank whose focus is to proffer ideas and solutions to national defence and security challenges, as well as imparting new knowledge to various constituencies. It is the engine that drives the ZNDU research process.
Air Power Seminar. ISRA jointly hosted an interactive seminar with the Pakistani Air Force during the period 14-15 March 2017. The theme of the seminar was “Air Power; The Weapon of First Choice”. The principal objective of the Air Power Seminar was to introduce participants to dynamics of Air Power and the contribution of Air Power to national security and successful execution of military operations.
Article Writing Seminars. Led by ISRA, ZNDU hosted a three-day seminar for ZDF officers on Article Writing in October 2017. The seminar facilitators were Professors Ezra Chitando and Charity Manyeruke.
Collaborative Activities. ISRA entered into two Memoranda of Agreement, one with the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) and another with the University of Zimbabwe. The MOA with SARDC is anchored on collaboration in generation and dissemination of knowledge and joint activities in research initiatives, exchanges and conferences to support the on- going national and regional policy analysis and review of strategies towards sustainable socio economic development. That with the University of Zimbabwe is premised on collaboration towards the improvement of capacity utilisation of the ISRA Simulator.
International Conference on Peace, Security and International Studies (ICPSIS). ISRA held its first edition of the International Conference on Peace, Security and International Studies in October 2018 (ICPSIS 2018) at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls. ICPSIS is a brand of the ZNDU and will be held biennially. The 2018 event was jointly hosted with Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) and was considered auspicious for ZNDU, as it was the ZNDU’s first with a globally renowned institution of the calibre of UMM. The second edition, which was to be held in 2020, could not be held on account of the Covid-19 pandemic induced restrictions.
African Journal for Defence and Security (AJDS). During the International Conference on Peace, Security and International Studies (ICPSIS 2018), the ZNDU launched its first edition of the African Journal of Defence and Security (AJDS).
Public Lecture on Cyber Security Awareness. ISRA jointly hosted a Public Lecture on Cyber Security Awareness with the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services (MICTPCS) on 15 October 2019. The theme of the seminar was ‘Safeguarding the National Critical Infrastructure’.
ISRA will host a one-day symposium on Cyber Security on 17 June 2021. Various stakeholders from academic institutions and Government departments will be invited to present papers on cyber security.
The institution is spearheading the establishment of a Campus Museum. As In support of the idea, the Department of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe has pledged its expert assistance in the establishment of the museum, and the first commitment to the support was realised when the department allowed a ZNDU team to conduct benchmarking tours to Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru and Bulawayo museums in 2020.
In 2019, the International Conference on Peace, Security and International Studies partnered the International Conference on Peace and Security (ICPS). Banking on the auspices of the association, ISRA is ardently working on preparations for hosting the second edition of the ICPS 2022 in October 2022 at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls. The theme of ICPS 2022 is “Improving Conflict Transformation in Africa”.
The Institute has been unable to conduct as much research as it would have desired to due to manpower turnover and limited funding. While the ideal situation for meaningful research is the availability of permanent staff members who progressively gain proficiency with experience, the status quo is that ISRA continues to lose manpower, which negatively impacts on research projects. The Institute still awaits the appointment of a substantive Head of ISRA, Director General R & D and a Grade One Staff Officer responsible for Coordination, among other key posts.
THE WAY FORWARD
As a national defence research institution, ISRA must fundamentally focus on assisting the nation in realising a political, social, economic, innovation, science and technology, defence and security environment in which the prospects, not only of non-traditional threats, but also of all forms of insecurity and war, are minimised, if not completely eliminated. To this end, the Institute needs to interrogate the prospects of conventional and non-conventional wars between Zimbabwe and any other power within and outside the SADC sub-region, and work towards proffering ideas on how to avert such possibilities, as well as on how to respond if such manifestation is unavoidable. Furthermore, the Institute is obligated to appraise the state of national preparedness for any such eventualities, and recommend strategic measures to be taken. Clearly, such strategic measures will not be confined to the military domain, but will encompass the country’s entire socio-economic and political environment.
In light of the growing global concerns on the foregoing, it has increasingly become vital for the defence and security establishment to be constantly aware of developments within and outside its sphere of influence as well as within and outside of the country’s borders. This entails sophisticated national intelligence gathering infrastructure and competent organisations, backed by credible, thorough and independent research work, and imparting and sharing of new knowledge and ideas through workshops and seminars. Zimbabwe’s defence capability and future security depend on continuously developing, profiling and reshaping appropriate responses to threats to national security through the development and implementation of a credible national defence and security doctrine.