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Subject: Chinese Ship Loaded With Arms For Zimbabwe
Softwar    4/17/2008 9:04:40 AM (Mugabe used his VISA card in Beijing and now he will have new toys for his "thugs" to make sure he stays in power...) A Chinese ship carrying a consignment of weapons destined for Zimbabwe has been cleared through customs at Durban harbour, police and transport officials say. "There are arms on the vessel and the ship is on the outer anchorage of the port and it's been docked here since April 14," Nicholas Gunther, of the police explosives unit, said yesterday. A transport spokesperson later confirmed that the An Yue Jiang, which was initially denied entry for having incorrect paperwork, had been cleared through customs. The ship is owned and operated by the China Ocean Shipping Company (Cosco), which a US newspaper claimed in 2006 "acts as the merchant marine for the Chinese military". International sanctions imposed by Western countries against Zimbabwe include a ban on weapons sales. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa yesterday declined to comment. Sars said they were getting the "full facts" before commenting. The news of the arms consignment will exacerbate fear among Zimbabwe's opposition that the government is planning to unleash the military on his opponents.
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Softwar    Dock Union in SA Refuses to Unload Weapons Ship   4/18/2008 8:48:38 AM
A Chinese cargo ship believed to be carrying 77 tonnes of small arms, including more than 3m rounds of ammunition, AK47 assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, has docked in the South African port of Durban for transportation of the weapons to Zimbabwe, the South African government confirmed yesterday. It claimed it was powerless to intervene as long as the ship's papers were in order.
Copies of the documentation for the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, show that the weapons were sent from Beijing to the ministry of defence in Harare. Headed "Dangerous goods description and container packing certificate", the document was issued on April 1, three days after Zimbabwe's election. It lists the consignment as including 3.5m rounds of ammunition for AK47 assault rifles and for small arms, 1,500 40mm rockets, 2,500 mortar shells of 60mm and 81mm calibre, as well as 93 cases of mortar tubes.
The carrier is listed as the Cosco shipping company in China.
South Africa's national conventional arms control committee issued a permit on Monday for the trans-shipment of the cargo from Durban to Harare. The head of government information in South Africa, Themba Maseko, said yesterday: "We are not in a position to act unilaterally and interfere in a trade deal between two countries." South Africa had to "tread very carefully", given the complexity of the situation in Zimbabwe, Maseko said.
South Africa was not encouraging the purchase of weapons by Zimbabwe, he said, pointing out that there was no UN trade embargo against that country.
But Tony Leon, the South African opposition foreign affairs spokesman, said the shipment was tantamount to "putting a fuse in a powder keg".
Dockers in Durban were refusing last night to unload the ship. The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union's general secretary, Randall Howard, said: "Satawu does not agree with the position of the government not to intervene with this shipment of weapons. Our members will not unload this cargo, neither will any of our members in the truck-driving sector move this cargo by road."
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