Zimbabwe may be reeling from acute food shortages and a severe liquidity crunch as well as company closures and loss of thousands of jobs, but that is not deterring government from splashing on expensive police and military equipment to bolster its repressive arsenal.
Sources in the security sector told the Zimbabwe Independent this week government has of late been buying equipment for the security sector, which now plays a critical role in propping up President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in power, which includes anti-riot gear and equipment, trucks and armored vehicles.
On Monday, government took delivery of vehicles worth millions of dollars. Accompanied by military police, blue-light flashing police escort cars with sirens wailing and out-riders clearing traffic, a convoy of about 30 cars passed through Harare around 7pm on Monday.
The equipment and vehicles were parked by the roadside, about 200 metres from the tollgate along the Harare-Masvingo Road until it was dark. Under the cover of darkness, the convoy rolled towards the capital city before turning into Mbare through Remembrance Drive next to the ZBC's Mbare Studios.
It then turned into Cripps Road and then into Glenara road before turning into Enterprise. It could not be established where the vehicles and equipment were going but the convoy drove past Arcadia, Braeside, Hillside, Eastlea and Highlands through Enterprise road towards Mutoko, indicating it might have been headed for 2.2 Infantry Battalion in Mudzi.
As the convoy rumbled through, police ordered civilian vehicles to keep a distance of at least 100m away from the rear escort vehicle.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi declined to comment, saying he was on leave while his Zimbabwe National Army counterpart Colonel Alphios Makotore referred questions to the police.
"The police were there, isn't it? Speak to them," he said.
However, police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of the acquisitions. Government has spent millions on luxury cars after the July 31 general elections.