THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) has acquired about 1 000 vehicles worth about US$45 million, raising fears these could be used in the military’s campaign for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF ahead of elections next year.
Report by Staff Writer
Sources said the vehicles, comprising Isuzu KB72 4X2 trucks valued at US$42 369 each and Isuzu KB72 4X4s each worth US$45 525, as well as other makes were recently ordered from local car dealerships as the military, already campaigning for Zanu PF, gears for elections.
According to the sources, about 40 vehicles have already been delivered, but it is uncertain when the other cars would arrive as the dealerships are overwhelmed by the bulk order.
The purchase comes as Zanu PF is stepping up its election campaigning by acquiring 550 cars at a cost of US$14 million to ensure its officials and foot soldiers reach all corners of the country to mobilise voters.
The military is credited with masterminding Zanu PF’s brutal 2008 presidential run-off poll campaign which saw Mugabe retain power after his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now Prime Minister, had pulled out citing violence.
Sources at Defence House confirmed the purchase of the vehicles saying they had been acquired for “logistical purposes”.
Army mechanics are being trained to service the new fleet as most of them are not familiar with the cars.
However, ZDF spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi said he was not aware the army had bought vehicles.
“I am not aware of that,” said Mugwisi.
Members of the army have reportedly been campaigning for Zanu PF, particularly in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces, which are MDC-T strongholds. Soldiers from the Mutare-based 3 Brigade recently visited traditional chiefs in Nyanga North and South for “orientation programmes”, while traditional leaders in Bikita are reportedly being ordered to attend meetings at Masvingo 4 Brigade army headquarters.
Tsvangirai this week said Mugabe agreed to call an urgent National Security Council meeting to warn soldiers not to interfere in the next elections.
The generals have publicly expressed their support for Mugabe.