Monday, April 21, 2008

Mugabe's mad scramble for weapons

From the Times (SouthAfrica)

Amid an international outcry over an attempt by Zimbabwe to obtain 77 tons of Chinese-made arms via Durban this week, it has been revealed that:

# Just days after the elections, officers from the police, the armed forces, the Central Intelligence Organisation and the president’s bodyguard were queueing for weapons at defence companies;

# A lack of foreign currency has led to a series of botched arms purchases; and

# The country is being forced to buy weapons because its own arms company has collapsed to the point of making coffins rather than weapons.

Mugabe’s attempts to rearm coincide with a brutal crackdown. Yesterday Human Rights Watch accused Zimbabwe of embarking on a campaign of torture against opponents.

This week Zimbabwe’s Lawyers for Human Rights documented 150 attacks on opposition supporters since the election three weeks ago following the launch of Operation Mavhoterapapi (Operation How Did You Vote)....

The Sunday Times has established that this week’s Chinese shipment of arms turned away from Durban harbour on Friday was just one of several botched attempts by the embattled Mugabe regime to buy arms this year.

One well-placed Zimbabwean defence industry official told the Sunday Times: “In the first three working days after the election, there were queues of people outside (arms procurement) offices — police, the presidential bodyguard unit, army, the CIO....

Zimbabwe has bought R1.6- billion worth of arms from China in the past four years, including 12 fighter aircraft.

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