ZIMBABWE is becoming increasingly dependent on South Africa for its economic revival and even security matters.
South Africa last year provided the country with agricultural inputs and this year advanced a US$30 million budgetary support loan. Shops are awash with imports mainly from the regional power house.
Last week government asked for a further US$30 million loan from South Africa to finance the education and health sectors.
The latest on Zimbabweâ€™s shopping list from South Africa, according to that countryâ€™s apposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is military hardware.
Two DA legislators â€” Wilmot James and Kenneth Mubu â€” last week claimed that Zimbabwe was procuring â€œmore than a million rounds of both types of bulletsâ€ from South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba and North KoreaÂ to be â€œused against civiliansâ€
The MPs were on a three-day fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe two weeks ago and reported to parliament that â€œcredible sourcesâ€ in ZimbabweÂ had told them that President Mugabe was in talks withÂ Venezuela, Cuba and Â North Korea â€œto fund a war chest ahead of the next electionâ€.
In a report after visiting Zimbabwe the MPs said the country had since taken delivery of some of the ammunition.
â€œOn August 21 2008, the first of many arms shipments, containing 32 tonnes of (ammunition) was flown from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Harare,â€ read their report citing a Belgian research group â€” International Peace Information Service â€” as the source of the information. On August 30 a second shipment of 20 tonnes of AK-47 (ammunition) arrived. This was flown in via Angola (and also) included mortar bombs and rockets.â€
The MPs said Zimbabwe did not have legislation regulating the importing and exporting of weapons and â€œas a result, no one in the country is providing oversight of what (President Robert) Mugabe is up to with the result that the Zimbabwe executive and Zanu PF are circumventing whatever sanctions â€” the European Unionâ€™s in particular â€” are in existenceâ€.
The legislators added: â€œWe regret to report that our country South Africa is planning to export 7,62 and 9mm ammunition to Zimbabwe. Our colleague David Maynier MP recently revealed â€” on 2 August 2009 â€” that Parliamentâ€™s National Conventional Arms Control Committee is considering authorising more than a million rounds of both types of bullets for export.â€
Though on Monday the committee chairman Jeff Radebe said South Africa was â€œconsidering selling armsâ€ to Zimbabwe, the ruling African National Congressâ€™s parliamentary caucus said it would ask parliament to investigate the DA for putting national security at risk after disclosing details of government arms deals.
James and Mubu said before they embarked on the fact-finding mission they â€œdid not appreciate how well oiled is Mugabeâ€™s repressiveâ€ machinery.
They said: â€œWe heard from credible sources that Mugabe is talking to Venezuela, Cuba and Korea to fund a war-chest in preparation for the referendum and election following on the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) brokered by former President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).â€
During their mission, the lawmakers held meetings with the Human Rights NGO Forum, Justice for Agriculture, the Legal Resources Foundation and the Research and Advocacy Unit.
They also held talks with Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, and Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Moses Mzila Ndlovu.
James and Mubu called on President Jacob Zuma to impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, however, on Tuesday during the Defence Forces Day commemorations rejected accusations that soldiers had committed abuses during last yearâ€™s campaign.
According to the MDC, close to 200 of its supporters were murdered while more than 5 000 people were displaced internally, leaving hordes injured and homeless.