Mugabe Masses Guns Ahead of Crunch Vote Election
Peta, Basildon, The Independent (London, England)
ROBERT MUGABE'S government is amassing huge quantities of arms and ammunition in preparation for next year's crunch presidential ballot.
An investigation by The Independent has revealed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Namibia are helping Zimbabwe to circumvent an international arms embargo to buy huge quantities of guns and bullets.
The arms embargo was imposed on Zimbabwe by the European Union and the United States because of its appalling human rights record.
Inquiries reveal that President Mugabe's government is importing and massing an assortment of guns at army bases around the country in preparation for the poll, which is expected to be violent.
Most of the guns have been arriving secretly at Suri Suri air base in Chegutu, 140km (80 miles) west of Harare, before they are distributed to other military bases. Some will be sent to farms where self-styled war veterans have established bases to intimidate voters.
Most of the weapons have arrived from the DRC in one of the country's military cargo plane.
The weapons consist of a significant portion of French-made guns, most of which top government sources say will be distributed to war veterans who are central to the ruling Zanu- PF party's re-election strategy in the presidential poll.
The sources say Zimbabwe, whose armoury has been massively depleted because of its participation in the three-year-old DRC war, has been having great difficulty in replenishing its arms stocks because its traditional and cheaper arms suppliers in Europe are refusing to sell it arms.
This has forced the army to ground most of its fleet of Hawk fighter aircraft because of Britain's refusal to sell spare parts. …