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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

ZAMBIA: Government allocates funds for new military equipment

JOHANNESBURG, 5 March 2003 (IRIN) - The Zambian government has allocated Kwacha 20 billion (US $4 million) to enable the Ministry of Defence to buy new equipment, parliament heard this week.

"We haven't decided what to buy yet because the budgetary provision is quite small," said Joel Chitafu, the ministry's permanent secretary, confirming the announcement to IRIN on Wednesday.

"We won't be able to buy a lot but we have to replace aircraft and weaponry and since we are involved in the [UN] Sierra Leone peacekeeping effort, we need to provide the battalion there with new equipment," he said.

Commenting on the allocation, the Catholic Centre for Development Justice and Peace (CCDJP) said that Zambia did not appear to be under the threat of war, and money was needed for more pressing priorities like irrigation equipment to help small commercial farmers.

"I don't think the [military spending] enhances the drive to alleviate poverty," Mulima Akpelwa, coordinator of economic justice for the CCDJP said.

According to the CIA world factbook, Zambia has no international disputes.

Meanwhile, the Times of Zambia reported on Wednesday that the Zambia Defence Force would in future only select HIV-negative recruits.

Defence Forces Medical Services Director-General James Simpungwe said the military would go ahead with the HIV screening of fresh entrants even without the approval of the human rights commission.

Existing HIV-positive members would be placed in less demanding roles and offered available medical attention, the newspaper reported.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict

[ENDS]

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