Intelligence: Why Spies Should Not Steal


April 14, 2012: The Swaziland Army recently ordered $1.25 million worth of cell phone monitoring equipment from a South African distributor. At the last minute the army said it could not pay for the equipment. So the distributor went to the Swazi High Court and sued the army for the money. This made public a purchase the army had hoped to keep secret.

This sort of monitoring gear is only sold to governments or government agencies, and the Swaziland Army qualified. The army was acting at the behest of the government, in order to establish an espionage operation to keep tabs on the growing number of people trying to overthrow the king, the last absolute monarch in Africa.

The problem here is money. Swaziland is poor and never has enough cash, except to pay for the lavish lifestyles of the royal family and their friends. This would include the senior army officers.

Swaziland is a small country (population 1.2 million) between South Africa and Mozambique. The armed forces (the army) have about 3,000 personnel and are mainly used to keep the unruly population in line. This will now be more difficult with details of the army's proposed spying operation exposed. It is made worse by the fact that the army will have a harder time getting the money for the equipment, since it's quite possible that the money was provided but was stolen by someone in the government.




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