GOVERNMENT is splashing billions of dollars on luxury vehicles for ministers, police and army service chiefs despite the fact that millions of Zimbabweans face starvation countrywide and for
eign exchange has dried up.
Information at hand shows that government is currently purchasing Mitsubishi Colt all-terrain twincab 4x4s for ministers and an additional 150 vehicles for police and army service chiefs. The 150 vehicles comprise an assortment of the latest Peugeot models, Toyota Prado SUVs and Mercedes-Benz limousines.
Finance deputy minister David Chapfika confirmed this week that there was a scheme to procure vehicles but could not give details of the specific vehicles likely to be acquired.
“As Finance, we just approved a block budget,” Chapfika said. “It’s the duty of the Transport ministry to procure the vehicles.”
Vehicle dealers who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week valued a Mitsubishi Colt pickup at $4,8 billion, with part of the amount paid in forex.
“Of that amount, US$19 500 of the price is payable in forex and the rest in local currency,” a sales representative at Croco Motors said.
This implies that on ministers alone government is set to spend around $140 billion on vehicles for about 30 ministers.
That money can import 15 466 tonnes of maize at the landing rate of $9 million per tonne. Government needs to import at least 250 000 tonnes of maize to avert looming mass starvation.
Currently the army, police and prison service chiefs drive top of the range Mazda Eagle 4×4 trucks and Prados acquired last year.
The revelation comes at a time when an estimated 2,4 million people face starvation, with malnutrition cases reported to be on the increase and the situation is projected to worsen if government does not import food as a matter of urgency.
Social Welfare director Sydney Mhishi told a parliamentary portfolio committee this week that around 2,2 million people could not afford to buy food for themselves.