Congo military deployment costs government trillions

HARARE - Zimbabwe is blowing trillions in unbudgeted public funds on military deployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Although no exact details were immediately available, government sources said the military expenditure was mainly to maintain President Joseph Kabila in power against a rebel

At least three battalions have been deployed to the DR Congo but government officials have refused to disclose death counts.

With a severe shortage of foreign currency, the country’s fuel requirements are not the only item being squeezed. Army troop allowances, for example, are paid in US dollars and military salaries, fuel, food and maintenance also need to be paid for. Military equipment is thought to have been lost in the DR Congo operation and will need to be replaced.

Such a large financial commitment would be a drain on the national economy at any time, but most members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces have just had their salaries nearly doubled. They are demanding payment in forex, but the government has reportedly advised this would only be available to those ranked at colonel or higher.

Zimbabwean officials apparently hope to recover some of the military costs in joint diamond ventures with the Congolese, though only top generals and well-heeled officials in the Mugabe administration are likely to benefit.

The Zimbabwean has heard that Kinshasa has granted major mining concessions in the diamond center of Mbuji-Mayi, reportedly the largest such resource in Central and Southern Africa. ZIMCON (Zimbabwe-Congo), a joint venture between the Zimbabwean and Congolese governments, is already operating in Mbuji-Mayi.

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