Monday, June 14, 2004

Zimbabwe: strikes weapons deal with China

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe has bought 12 fighter jets and 100 military vehicles from China, the opposition shadow defence minister Giles Mutsekwa said on Sunday.

[...] The cost of the equipment has not been disclosed, but Mutsekwa estimated the deal at around US$200m.

Mutsekwa said the parliamentary committee on defence was kept in the dark about the deal, only discovering it during a recent review of the defence ministry's quarterly budget.

[...] [Defence ministry secretary Trust] Maphosa reportedly cited security reasons for the breach in procedure.

He also reportedly argued that the military purchases from China were necessary due to the arms embargo slapped by the European Union and the United States on Zimbabwe.

Maphosa said it was now impossible to find spare parts for the fleet currently in use. (full-story)
According to this brief story in the Guardian ... "It is not clear how the jets will be paid for as the defence budget is a mere $136m and 69 per cent of that consists of salaries."