GOVERNMENT last weekend took delivery of the 633 vehicles purchased from India at a cost of US$50 million, which include all-terrain troop-carrying trucks and water cannons mostly used by the military and police.
Owen Gagare/Elias Mambo
Government sources said this week the first batch of vehicles arrived last Friday and was packed at the Zimbabwe National Army’s Harare Base Workshops Ordnance Supply Depot at Msasa in Harare.
The last batch arrived on Sunday and was also taken to Msasa, from where they will be despatched to different units.
Despite being cash-strapped, government is secretly bolstering its instruments of repression to combat any possible Arab Spring-style uprising ignited by the explosive socio-economic situation in the country.
Senior government officials told the Zimbabwe Independent last week that in order to cover up the security vehicles which authorities are anxious to hide, the consignment in the bill of landing was described as cars for the “Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality activities, especially for promotion of domestic tourism and supporting international tourism, disaster management, anti-poaching activities, peace missions and other related purposes”.
The vehicles were bought from Ashok Leyland Ltd — an Indian automobile manufacturing company based in Chennai. Under the contract, Ashok Leyland, besides supplying the vehicles, will also provide training for Zimbabwe’s technical staff in operation and maintenance of the vehicles.
The contract was financed by Export-Import Bank of India through its buyer’s credit extended to Zimbabwe’s Finance ministry under the national export insurance account to the tune of US$49,92 million.
Military sources also confirmed the vehicles were taken to the Ordnance Supply Depot.
“The vehicles, which include military tankers, trucks and buses arrived on Friday last week and we saw them bee-lining to the military depot,” a source said.
Vendors operating near the depot confirmed seeing the vehicles.
“This road has been busy from Friday to Sunday as the vehicles arrived in groups,” said an airtime vendor whose stall is near the base.
“The vehicles were in groups of more than 50 and were escorted by military police.”
In December 2013, government bought hardware which included anti-riot gear and equipment, trucks and armoured vehicles worth millions of dollars, as first reported by the Independent.
At a Zimbabwe Republic Police passout parade at Morris Depot in May, Mugabe commissioned 97 vehicles, among them 20 buses, all-terrain troop-carrying trucks, water cannons and ordinary trucks.
The vehicles have since been distributed countrywide. Then Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi said the vehicles, which make large-scale deployment of police officers easier, would enhance police capacity.