South African Churches Criticize Government Spending on Arms
April 11, 2002
The South African Council of Churches said in a statement Wednesday that it was deeply disturbed by its government's decision this week to buy an estimated 52.7 billion rand ($4.7 billion) in new warships, planes, helicopters and submarines from British and European companies over a ten-year period. The government had the option to cancel part of the 1999 deal, but this week's announcement showed it had no intention of doing so. While the church group understood the necessity for a defense force, it had consistently questioned the "need for the purchase of state-of-the-art weaponry in light of the more pressing problems created by poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic." An estimated 4.7 million South Africans -- one in nine -- are HIV-positive, and the government says treatment for them is unaffordable.
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