Britain has been funding the Zimbabwe military, which has been accused of human rights violations and looting diamonds from Marange, over the past 12 months but the under-secretary for Defence Andrew Robathan refused to disclose how much the British government was paying to Zimbabwe and several other countries under its programme.
Robathan was asked last week by East Renfreswshire Member of Parliament Jim Murphy which programmes were funded by the Defence Department in Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Zimbabwe; and what the cost of each such programme was in the last 12 months.
Robathan said the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had funded programmes in: Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe during the past 12 months.
It had not funded any programmes in Angola, Burkina Faso, Burma, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, and Uzbekistan.
He said the programmes was aimed at enhancing bilateral relationships and building stability overseas as part of the government’s wider foreign policy goals. They consist of a wide range of activities including:
- Providing places on defence education and training courses in the UK (such as the Army, RAF and Navy Junior Officer Training and the Joint Services Advanced Command and Staff Course);
- The deployment of UK personnel in support of permanent British Peace Support Teams and British Military Advisory and Training Teams;
- The deployment of Short Term Training Teams to deliver subject specific training in country;
- Advisory visits, Defence Staff Talks and Senior Leadership engagement either in the UK or in country.
- In addition to MOD-specific funds, some of these activities receive funding from the tri-departmental Conflict Pool.
- Robathan said it was not possible to provide a breakdown of the cost and details of individual programmes as this disclosure would be likely to prejudice relations between the UK and other states.
The Zimbabwe military has been accused of looting diamonds from Marange and this has cost the country the right to freely sell its diamonds through the regulation body, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The military has also been accused of harassing civilians in the co0nstitutional making process by forcing people to support President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union- patriotic Front.