Monday, June 14, 2004

Revealing Priorities

Comrade Bob can spare $200 million for arms from China, but he has nothing to offer to those of his subjects teetering on the brink of starvation because of his idiotic policies.

Zimbabwe's opposition has condemned a government decision to order fighter aircraft from China and other military equipment worth an estimated $200m.

The defence ministry confirmed it was buying defence equipment from China.

Opposition defence spokesman Giles Mutsekwa said 12 fighter jets and 100 military vehicles were being bought.

Mr Mutsekwa suggested that the move was intended to intimidate Zimbabweans ahead of parliamentary elections due to be held in March next year.

[............]

Defence Ministry Secretary Trust Maphosa reportedly revealed the purchase during a quarterly review of the defence ministry budget in parliament.

Under questioning he also admitted tendering procedures had been breached.

He blamed this on security reasons and on an arms embargo slapped on Zimbabwe by the European Union and the United States which he said was making it difficult to find spare parts for the current fleet.
What possible external foe does Zimbabwe have to worry about enough to justify this sort of military expenditure? None of its neighbors other than South Africa have much in the way of military muscle, and Thabo Mbeki has made it manifestly clear that for him black "solidarity" trumps any concern about misrule by the likes of Mugabe. Mr. Mutsekwa is right - this is all about the intimidation of domestic foes, and I've heard ominous rumors that Mugabe's planning a rerun of his old campaign against the Ndebele now that few devilish imperialist white farmers remain to be blamed for the mess he's caused.