News Briefs

Military Leader’s Motors

The Zimbabwe Independent reports that President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government has bought more than 300 cars for military bosses ahead of the crunch 2018 elections.

The cars are to be allocated to various army units that included the Air Force of Zimbabwe wing commanders and Zimbabwe National Army lieutenant-colonels.

The cars ranged from Toyota Fortuner SUVs valued at $75,000 each, Ford Ranger double-cabs valued between $53,000 and $89,000 each, and Toyota Corollas ranging from $25,000 to $29,000 per vehicle.

Fiji Furore

The Fiji opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa says the government is harming the country’s image by having the armoured personnel carriers on parade in Nadi, and that it is not helping the tourism industry or enhancing Fiji’s image abroad but rather denting it badly.

She also questioned the wisdom of buying three Bushmaster vehicles from Australia, describing the purchase as an extravagant use of funds. Australia agreed to sell 10 Bushmasters to Fiji in February, with the defence minister Marise Payne saying they would be used to support Fiji’s United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Middle East.

Tank Tragedy

Two British soldiers, corporals Matthew Hatfield and Darren Neilson, died after an explosion in their tank during an exercise at a Castlemartin firing range in Pembrokeshire on June 14. Neilson, 31, of Preston, Lancashire, was the tank commander and is believed to have been in the turret at the time of the blast. Hatfield, 27, from Amesbury, Wiltshire, was loading practice ammunition.

At the opening to their inquest it emerged that the cause of Hatfield’s death is believed to be burns, while Neilson suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of blast-related injuries.

It is understood the accident involved a Challenger 2 tank. No other tank was involved, and the Challenger was not hit by a shell. A worldwide ban on tank live-firing exercises involving British troops remains in place.