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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Zimbabwe defends defence spending
Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe says financing the army remains a priority
Zimbabwe's defence minister has vowed not to cut military spending despite the economic crisis in the country.

However, he rejected reports from June that the government had spent an estimated $200m on military equipment from China.

"That was a lie spread around by our enemies, there is no truth in that," Sydney Sekeramayi told the BBC.

Zimbabwe needed to be prepared for external threats from those against its land reform programme, he said.

'Our business'

"We are simply spending what is required for the defence forces and is always commensurate with the economy of the country," he told the BBC's Network Africa.

It is not any of your business... we have got a defence force that must be able that must be equipped
Sydney Sekeramayi
Zimbabwe's defence minister
In June, it was reported that Zimbabwe's defence ministry had ordered 12 fighter jets and 100 military vehicles from China, without informing parliament.

He said the government did not need to seek authority from anybody to buy what was necessary for the military and refused to give details of military spending.

"I have told you very clearly we are not spending the money that people are saying we are spending... [and] it is not any of your business. That is our business," he said.

Speaking on Armed Forces day on Tuesday, President Robert Mugabe told a huge crowd that the "government will always continue to give priority to the defence force training and equipment programme".

Zimbabwe is suffering a major economic crisis, with inflation at more than 400%, unemployment at about 70% and millions people surviving on foreign food aid, blamed by critics on the controversial land reform which saw white-owned farmed distributed to blacks.




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