HomeLocal NewsArmy gets top-of-the-range cars

Army gets top-of-the-range cars

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Zimbabwe is set to receive several vehicles from Indian automobile manufacturer Ashok Leyland with a large chunk of the consignment reportedly destined for the army, sources said yesterday.

BY BUSINESS REPORTER

The vehicles were acquired last year under a $50 million loan facility reportedly funded by Exim Bank of India. The consignment also includes buses.

The development is likely to raise eyebrows as it comes at a time the financially-crippled government is struggling to pay salaries for civil servants and provide essential social services, including water and health.

Under the deal, the Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry is the contracting party and the vehicles would be used for tourism-related business, disaster management and by other government departments.

A flag-off ceremony for the vehicles was held in India on June 28.

Sources said some of the cars were destined for the army but the Tourism ministry was used as a shield to bust the international trade embargo imposed on the army.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi confirmed the importation of the vehicles.

“You have done this story before, tourism is the contracting party and the consignment is for its use and other government departments,” he said.

Last year, Mzembi told a local news agency the cars would be used to promote domestic tourism.

Mzembi said the order included government vehicles, some for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), game-viewing equipment, luxury buses and school tourism buses.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore told NewsDay on Wednesday to send questions to the private email of an officer in his department.

The officer later told this paper to redirect the questions on the official Zimbabwe National Army email address adding, “besides I think these questions could have been directed to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces public relations”.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwizi was not reachable for comment yesterday.

Zimparks had by last night not responded to questions sent on Wednesday.

Ashok Leyland pride themselves as the “pioneers in the design, development and manufacture of specialised defence vehicles for armed forces”.

It claims that over 70 000 vehicles on its Stallon platform form the “veritable logistics backbone of the Indian army and make us the largest supplier of logistics vehicles to them”.

Ashok Leyland says it was a “known company that has provided logistic mobility solutions to the armed forces over the years” including among others, troop/load carrying vehicles, light recovery vehicles, field artillery tractor and truck firefighting.
Last year, Ashok Leyland Limited said it had won a contract to supply vehicles to Zimbabwe.

“The company has bagged a contract from the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Government of Zimbabwe, for the supply 670 vehicles valued at approximately $50 million. The order is planned to be executed in the financial year 2014/15,” the company said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

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