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Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 14:37 GMT
Zimbabwe losses add up in Congo
Zimbabwe has faced heavy criticism for its involvement in the Congo The Congo adventure has been heavily criticised in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has lost military equipment worth about $200m in the Democratic Republic of Congo since it began backing President Laurent Kabila's war against a rebellion, says an independent newspaper.

Battle for the heart of Africa
Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette quoted official sources as saying an inventory carried out by a defence team recently showed that equipment destroyed in the Congo included transport planes, a fighter jet and three helicopter gunships.

Zimbabwean Defence Minister Moven Mahachi has refused to comment on the extent of the losses, saying he would do so only when the troops returned home.

"Yes, we have lost equipment in the war but I haven't quantified it. Publicity about our losses will not benefit Zimbabwe but enhance those we are fighting against," he said.

Zimbabwe's losses
Transport planes
Three helicopter gunships
MiG fighter jet
Armoured carriers
Brazilian-made Cascavel armoured cars
Heavy ammunition
Communication systems
Source: Financial Gazette
Zimbabwe's involvement in the war in the Congo is deeply unpopular, not least because the country is in the grip of its most serious economic crisis since independence in 1980.

And despite protests at home, President Robert Mugabe is estimated to have about 11,000 soldiers, a third of his army, fighting alongside President Kabila's forces.

The authorities in Zimbabwe have trumpeted a number of potentially lucrative deals in areas such as diamonds, gold and copper with their Congolese counterparts which they say can recoup the costs of the army deployment.

However, economic and political observers are highly sceptical of the deals which they say are unlikely to prove as beneficial to Zimbabwe as the government suggests.

Western donors, led by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have placed their aid programmes to Zimbabwe under review, citing military spending in Congo among the reasons.
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See also:
23 Sep 99 |  Africa
Zimbabwe army in Congo diamond deal
01 Oct 99 |  Africa
Zimbabwe accused of 'economic colonialism'
24 Jun 99 |  Africa
Zimbabwe sends more troops to DR Congo
08 Jul 99 |  Africa
Congo peace plan: the main points

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