Tue 22 Apr 2008, 8:07 GMT
BEIJING, April 22 (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday a shipment of weapons
bound for Zimbabwe may head back after the vessel was unable to unload, but
defended the cargo as "perfectly normal trade".
Zambia's president urged regional states on Monday to bar the An Yue Jiang
from entering their waters, saying the weapons could deepen Zimbabwe's
election crisis. The ship already failed to unload its cargo in South
Africa, and Mozambique and Angola have denied it access to their ports.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the contract for the
shipment was signed last year and was "unrelated to recent developments" in
Jiang said the arms shipment was "perfectly normal trade in military goods
between China and Zimbabwe", but because it was impossible for Zimbabwe to
receive the goods, the company involved is now considering shipping the
Zimbabwe announced a delay on Sunday in a partial recount of votes in March
29 elections, extending a deadlock in which the opposition says 10 of its
members have been killed and hundreds arrested.
The recount could overturn the results of the parliamentary election, which
showed the ruling ZANU-PF losing its majority to the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.
The MDC says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won presidential elections also
held on March 29, and that President Robert Mugabe is attempting to cling to
power by delaying the result.
The MDC said in a statement on Tuesday, "Those weapons were not going to be
used on mosquitoes, but (were) clearly meant to butcher innocent civilians
whose only crime is rejecting dictatorship and voting (for) change." The
statement was carried by South Africa's SAPA news agency.
The 300,000-strong South African Transport and Allied Workers Union refused
to unload the weapons because of concerns Mugabe's government might use them
against opponents in the post-election stalemate.
The ship left South Africa on Friday. Mozambique said on Saturday the vessel
would not be allowed into its waters.
Angola said on Monday the ship was not welcome there either.
"This ship has not sought a request to enter Angolan territorial waters and
it's not authorised to enter Angolan ports," Filomeno Mendonca, director of
the Institute of Angolan Ports, told Luanda Radio LAC, a private Angolan
China is trying to prevent the controversy from fuelling criticism over its
human rights record and rule in Tibet ahead of hosting the Olympics in
August. Sometimes-violent protests have followed the Olympic torch across
the globe. (Reporting by Chris Buckley; Additional reporting by Paul Simao
in Johannesburg; Writing by Nick Macfie and Caroline Drees; Editing by Ibon
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - Web posted at 7:37:08 GMT
A CHINESE ship carrying six containers of ammunition for Zimbabwe has
applied to take on fuel at Walvis Bay this morning.
The An Yue Jiang is carrying three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition,
1 500 rocket-propelled grenades and more than 3 000 mortar rounds and mortar
Attempts to get comment from Government yesterday were unsuccessful.
Messages were left for Minister of Information, Joel Kaapanda, but he
had not returned them by the time of going to press.
Yesterday, the Legal Assistance Centre said it would approach the High
Court to stop the ship from entering Namibia at Walvis Bay.
Interviewed on One Africa TV News last night, Kaapanda said he didn't
know anything about the ship.
He said if it docked at Walvis Bay, Government would consider "any
appropriate measures", but did not elaborate.
The Minister said he wondered why such a big deal was being made about
The vessel is carrying a lethal cargo.
He noted that Zimbabwe was a landlocked country and often used Walvis
"I don't understand why this ship is so special," he said.
The LAC called on all concerned citizens in Namibia to raise their
voice against the An Yue Jiang docking in a Namibian harbour.
The ship left the South African port of Durban last week after
dockworkers refused to unload the shipment and the Durban High Court barred
its cargo from being transported to landlocked Zimbabwe.
The LAC's partners in South Africa - the Southern African Litigation
Centre and the International Action Network on Small Arms - obtained a court
order that the weapons could not be transported through South Africa.
The vessel is now reported to be heading to either Walvis Bay or
Luanda in Angola.
"Our concern is that Zimbabwe is a nation that has been in an
escalating state of crisis," said Norman Tjombe, Director of the LAC.
"To allow more weapons to enter Zimbabwe will only fuel more violence,
with the serious consequence of more deaths and suffering."
The escalating violation and suppression of human rights in Zimbabwe
was exacerbated by last month's disputed elections, of which the results
have yet to be announced, he said.
"Namibia, and its institutions, such as the Namibia Ports Authority,
has obligations under national and international law to foster international
peace and the peaceful resolutions of disputes, and the responsibility and
accountability in the regulation and control of the trade in conventional
arms," said Tjombe.
He said in terms of the Namibian Constitution, the Namibian State is
obligated to promote international co-operation, peace and security and
foster respect for international law and treaty obligations.
Namibia was also a signatory to several other international treaties,
such as SADC Firearms Protocol, Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security,
and the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light
Weapons in All Its Aspects, which would all be violated if it allowed arms
to enter Zimbabwe, he said.
"In the light of these obligations, it will be prudent for the Namibia
Ports Authority not to allow the offloading of the deadly cargo of the An
Yue Jiang vessel if and when the vessel calls on any port in Namibia,"
If the ship was allowed to offload and transport overland in Namibia,
he said, the LAC would approach the courts.
"We nonetheless trust that Namibia would adhere to its obligations
under the Constitution and international law, without the need for us to
approach the High Court of Namibia," Tjombe said.
Transport workers in Africa were also called on to help prevent the
shipment from reaching Zimbabwe.
The International Transport Workers Federation said its member trade
unions and the International Trade Union Confederation must stop what it
calls the "dangerous and destabilising shipment."
The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) has also
appealed to the governments of SADC, especially Namibia, Angola and
Mozambique, to prevent the arms cargo from reaching its destination.
Trade unionists in the South African transport industry also announced
a boycott of the cargo.
IANSA wants the weaponry detained until Zimbabwe can prove it will not
be misused to suppress the Zimbabwean people.
"We remind all southern African countries, including neighbouring
Namibia and Mozambique, that they have ratified the Southern African
Development Community 2004 Firearms Protocol," said IANSA communications
officer, Louise Rimmer.
"The Protocol explicitly states that all Southern African states
should harmonise their arms control laws to prevent conflict in the region
and destabilising accumulations of arms.
South African and international law has been used to prevent the
transportation of these arms to Zimbabwe across South Africa, so other SADC
authorities must stop it too."
Opponents claim that it is highly likely that the weapons will be used
to fuel violence, killings and intimidation in Zimbabwe's growing political
The six containers were initially shipped to Durban by the Chinese
government-controlled conglomerate Poly Technologies for onward transport to
It is now trying to find another dock to unload its weapons and
transport them to landlocked Zimbabwe.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has also called on
African governments and port authorities to deny entry to the vessel.
"This is just the beginning of the campaign; the fight is however not
yet over, as the ship heads in the direction of Angola.
Cosatu is doing everything possible to alert African transport workers
in both the maritime and road freight industries not to allow the vessel to
dock nor to handle or transport its cargo," Cosatu National Spokesperson
Patrick Craven told a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday.
Craven said Africa governments and international trade union movements
should know the danger to the workers of Zimbabwe if the cargo was allowed
to be unloaded and delivered to Mugabe's forces.
Cosatu reiterated that Africa could not be seen to be facilitating the
flow of weapons to Zimbabwe which is in the grip of a tense electoral
Monsters and Critics
Apr 22, 2008, 9:08 GMT
Windhoek, Namibia - A Namibian rights organization was preparing Tuesday to
go to court to try to stop a Chinese freighter carrying weapons destined for
Zimbabwe from offloading at Walvis Bay port in Namibia but port control
there said it had received no such request from the vessel.
'We're trying to get a court order to stop the ship from offloading at
Walvis Bay,' Norman Tjombe, director of the Legal Assistance Centre in
Windhoek, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa Tuesday.
'We have written letters to the relevant ministries to refrain from allowing
the ship to dock here and we're preparing papers for the High Court now.'
But port control in Walvis Bay told dpa they had received no request from
the vessel to refuel or dock at the port so far and had no idea of its
Speculation in Namibia is rife about whether the ship that hightailed it out
of Durban harbour after a court there barred the transport of the cargo
across South Africa would now try to access Zimbabwe via the Atlantic coast
port of Walvis Bay in Namibia or the harbours of Namibe or Luanda in Angola.
Namibia has excellent roads that directly connect to Zimbabwe via the
north-eastern Caprivi Strip.
Namibia also has close ties with both Zimbabwe and China dating back to its
liberation struggle that brought about independence from South Africa in
The exact whereabouts of the An Yue Jiang Tuesday was not clear. A
spokeswoman for the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) claimed Monday
the vessel was still within South African waters - a claim South Africa's
Defence Ministry rejected.
The Namibian newspaper had reported Tuesday that the ship, which is carrying
six containers of weapons and ammunition, had applied to take on fuel at
Walvis Bay Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Dawid Tjombe, president of the Namibian Transport and Allied
Workers' Union (NATAU), said their members were guided by the International
Transport Federation and would thus act in accordance with their directives.
'Should the ship dock at this stage, because of international and national
labour involvement, we will not offload,' he told dpa, hastening to add: 'I
am not against the politics of Zimbabwe, but we are waiting for the results
to be released.'
Tjombe's union is also affiliated to the National Union of Namibian Workers
(NUNW), which in turn is affiliated to Namibia's ruling party SWAPO.
JOHANNESBURG (Thomson Financial) - A Chinese ship loaded with weapons
intended for Zimbabwe is headed to the Angolan capital Luanda, the agent
handling the ship told Agence-France Presse on Tuesday.
"According to the documentation, the next calling port is Angola. This
vessel is causing a lot of attention. The information is very sensitive,"
said Wang Kun Hui, representative of the Cosren shipping agency in Durban.
Asked where exactly in Angola, Wang replied: "Luanda."
Tue 22 Apr 2008, 8:12 GMT
BERLIN (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling party leader Jacob Zuma said on
Tuesday the delay to Zimbabwe's election results was not acceptable and
called on African leaders to take action to solve the post-poll deadlock.
"It's not acceptable," Zuma told Reuters in an interview in Berlin. "It's
not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone out to... elect the kind of
party and presidential candidate they want, exercising their constitutional
Zimbabwe held elections on March 29, but no result has been announced from
the presidential ballot in which the opposition says it defeated veteran
President Robert Mugabe. There has also been a delay to a partial recount of
votes from the parallel parliamentary vote, in which the ruling party lost
"At this point in time...I imagine that the leaders in Africa should really
move in to unlock this logjam," African National Congress leader Zuma said.
"Concretely this means African countries should identify some people to go
in there, probably talk to both parties, call them and ask them what the
problem is, as well as the electoral commission," Zuma said.
LAGOS (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader has met former Nigerian president
Olusegun Obasanjo and urged the west African nation to intervene in his
country's post-election crisis, local media said Tuesday.
"Nigeria played a significant role during our struggle for independence and
the crisis in Zimbabwe requires the attention of a country like Nigeria,"
Morgan Tsvangirai was quoted as saying during a visit to Obasanjo's Ota
farm, near Lagos, on Monday.
He said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) -- which claimed victory in
the March 29 presidential poll in Zimbabwe -- would also reach out to other
African leaders to seek an end to the election impasse.
"With the situation we are facing in the country, especially with regard to
the violence and manipulation of the electoral commission, we require a
broader dimension," he added.
Tsvangirai met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Ghana on Monday and urged
the United Nations and the African Union to intervene in the crisis.
The MDC leader has spent most of his time in recent weeks lobbying regional
and international support for his argument that President Robert Mugabe is
trying to rig his re-election after 28 years in power.
Zimbabwe's government last week accused Tsvangirai of treason by plotting
with former colonial power Britain to oust veteran Mugabe.
After the last presidential elections, which he narrowly lost in 2002,
Tsvangirai was tried for treason before being later acquitted.
22/04/2008 - 10:21:03 AM
Church leaders in Zimbabwe today warned that Robert Mugabe’s opponents were
being tortured and murdered in a deliberate campaign that could reach
Leaders of all denominations called for international intervention to help
end the country’s post-election crisis.
They also demanded the immediate announcement of results from the March 29
presidential election that long-time Mugabe is widely believed to have lost.
In a joint statement the leaders said “the nation is in a crisis.”
09:18 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 10:18 UK
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