Government last week received the second batch of vehicles — including all-terrain troop-carrying trucks, water cannons, buses and equipment, mostly used by the military and police — bought from an Indian automobile manufacturing company, Ashok Leyland, under a US$50-million loan facility from the Export-Import Bank of India.
The Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed that the military vehicles were dispatched to various units on Thursday and Friday.
The remainder of the vehicles were officially handed over to the Ministry of Tourism on Monday morning by Indian ambassador to Harare, Surinder Kumar Datta.
The vehicles were bought through the tourism ministry amid revelations that government was anxious to cover-up its purchase of the security vehicles.
The consignment in the bill of lading 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”.
Some vehicles were, however, allocated to the Zimbabwe National Army while others were allocated to the Air Force of Zimbabwe. They were not part of the vehicles handed over on Monday.
The vehicles include 90 which will be allocated to lieutenant-colonels.
Vehicles handed over to government included buses, dump trucks, fire trucks, refrigerated trucks and passenger vehicles. Most of the buses were allocated to the Public Service Commission.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said the vehicles will be used to improve tourism operations. He said they would offer efficient response services across the country.
“You may be wondering why the fire trucks, but the issue is we get emergencies in some of these remote areas and we lose a lot of land to fire before we get a response, for instance. These vehicles will enable us to quickly and swiftly respond to disasters that are related to us,” he said.
In her acceptance speech, Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said the vehicles and assortment of equipment would enable the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to carry out and achieve anti-poaching work and field deployments as part of means to enhance tourism in the country.