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USDF forfifies its arsenal

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image The Cargo Plane that was at Matsapha International Airport yesterday.

MANZINI – The Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) has  purchased a range of new weaponry which is reported to include firearms.

This publication can exclusively reveal that a huge cargo plane yesterday landed at the Matsapha International Airport to deliver weaponry that have been purchased by the USDF. The cargo plane arrived at around 3pm  and was met by a heavy security detail of USDF members and police officers when it delivered unspecified number of firearms and other military hardware.

Impeccable sources from within the security agencies confirmed that the cargo included firearms and other military hardware.
The arrival of the plane and its cargo was said to be top secret such that our attempts to ascertain which country the plane came from were unsuccessful.  When the Times team arrived at the airport, the plane was found parked at the back and army personnel were offloading the equipment. The plane was parked next to a warehouse not far from the airport tower and it was surrounded by heavily armed soldiers and army vehicles.

The plane, due to its size, drew the attention of members of the public at the airport and staff that came closer to get a glimpse of what was being offloaded. However, armed soldiers prevented them from getting any closer.
Heavily armed soldiers were littered around the plane and the airport. Journalists from this publication were ordered to leave the premises and warned not to take pictures.

Army Commander Lieutenant General Sobantu Dlamini, in a telephone interview, confirmed that the plane had come to deliver security equipment for the army. He did not want to specify what the plane had come to deliver, citing security reasons.
Dlamini also wondered how the press got to know of the presence of the aircraft.

“Who told you of the plane? What had you gone there to do? I can only confirm the presence of the plane and that it has come to deliver security equipment, full stop,” the army commander said.
When pressed further on what the security equipment was for, he refused to elaborate.

“I cannot reveal due to security issues. This is equipment intended for and known by us, the security force. Uyaganga. I can never detail each an every item relating to security. Such is never publicised.”

“I can never reveal where the equipment is coming from. Security issues must be respected,” Dlamini said.
 Government, in the beginning of its fiscal year, allocated the Ministry of Defence E867 million.  The budget for the ministry increased by E109 million from last year’s, which stood at E758 million.

The ministry’s allocation is the fourth highest when compared to other portfolios. It is only lower than the Ministries of Education and Training, Health and Public Works and Transport, respectively.
According to the 2011 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, Swaziland is spending more money on the army than any other country in the SADC region and ranks 13th in the world.

The comparison has been made in terms of the percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) that a country spends on the army. It must be noted that the CIA based its information on statistics dating between 2005 and 2010 for the various countries but when it comes to Swaziland the data is for 2006.

In the entire African continent, Swaziland reportedly ranks third after Burundi and Morocco who are ranked eighth and 11th in the world, respectively.
The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.



TUCOSWA not pleased

MANZINI – The continuous excessive expenditure by the army may jeopardise the negotiations for salary increments between government and public sector unions.

This was the view of Vincent Ncongwane, the Secretary General (SG) of the deregistered Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), during an interview yesterday.
“The continuous excessive expenditure by the army makes the public sector unions not understand why government is failing to increase their salaries because they think the country has money. They think the country has money because the army continues with secretive expensive expenditures while the country is not at war and there are no signs of a looming war,” Ncongwane said.
He urged government to thoroughly look into the issue and make some means to cut down the excessive expenditure by the army.
Ncongwane said he understood the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) should be secretive with its operations like every country, but since Swaziland was not at war, the continuous expenditure should be minimised because it confuses the people of the country.

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