December 20, 2001

Zimbabwe, Angola moot joint war weapons firm

The Zimbabwean government is involved in talks with the Angolan government to look at the possibility of setting up a joint company to manufacture weapons of war. According to the sources, the joint Angolan-Zimbabwean weapons manufacturing firm would be based in Harare and manufacture weapons to be used by the two countries while the larger share of the weapons would be exported.

In the last three years, Zimbabwe’s weapons have been heavily depleted since President Robert Mugabe unilaterally sent troops into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in August 1998 to support the regime of the late DRC president Laurent Kabila. Zimbabwe’s allies in the war are Namibia and Angola. Last year the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), a state firm, tried unsuccessfully to enter into a joint venture with a Namibian company to manufacture arms of war. The sources said the latest arms talks had been necessitated by Zimbabwe’s failure to legally secure arms from European nations because most countries have now slapped the southern African nation with arms embargoes. Last year in August, South Africa — which used to supply ZDI with weapons — temporarily slapped an unofficial embargo on arms sales on Zimbabwe to try to pressure its neighbour from any further involvement in the DRC. It is however believed that the DRC and Namibian governments are helping Zimbabwe to circumvent the arms embargo. Harare is also said to be amassing an assortment of guns at army bases in the country and importing arms in preparation for next year’s presidential poll in March. The DRC war is estimated to be costing Zimbabwe more than $1.5 billion every month — enough to run a modern provincial hospital for more than six months. (FINANCIAL GAZETTE)

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