Britain refuses to disclose details of military cooperation with Zimbabwe

British Defence Secretary Nick Harvey yesterday refused to disclose whether there was any military cooperation between his country and Zimbabwe saying the information was not held centrally and “could only be provided at disproportionate cost". 

He was responding to a question by Conservative legislator Andrew Rosindell who wanted to know on what on what occasions officials, ministers and military personnel in his department met their counterparts from Burundi, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe between 2 May 1997 and 1 January 2010.

In his short reply, the minister said: “This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.”

Britain has been working with Zimbabwe’s military despite the poor relations between the two countries. In February under-secretary for Defence Andrew Robathan admitted that Britain was funding Zimbabwe’s military but refused to disclose the amount.

Robathan said the funding was aimed at enhancing bilateral relationships and building stability overseas as part of the government's wider foreign policy goals but added that 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 British Military Advisory and Training Team trained members of the Zimbabwe National Army from 1980 to 2000 and only left after relations between the two countries soured because of the farm invasions by war veterans in 2000.

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