The Zimbabwe government has said that the cost of the country’s military intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was affordable under the current budget.
In a news conference relayed by television on Tuesday, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa was responding to media reports in Zimbabwe that the cost of maintaining an estimated 6,000 troops, aircraft and armoured vehicles was at least US $1 million a day.
“So far the costs have been within the existing budget for 1997/98,” he said. Murerwa added that other allies in Southern Africa were helping meet the cost of Zimbabwe’s support for DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila. Namibia, Chad and Angola have also sent troops to support Kabila.
But he declined to say which nations were helping. Analysts recalled that the Zimbabwe dollar has lost half its value since soldiers were first sent to Congo in August, leading to massive price rises and violent street protests. Murerwa attributed the slide of the Zimbabwe dollar to low commodity prices and monetary speculation.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has postponed indefinitely a board meeting to consider further payments for Zimbabwe, in part because of the impact of its DRC intervention.
According to Zimbabwe news media, a recent Gallup poll commissioned by local rights groups, 70 percent of Zimbabweans are opposed to the intervention.
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