Monday, May 19, 2008

Chinese arms are now in Zim

from the UKTelegraph

Two Zimbabwean ministers and senior army officers visited Luanda three weeks ago to negotiate the docking and unloading of the ship.

George Chiramba, a spokesman for Mr Mugabe, said in the state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, that "the arms will be delivered to Zimbabwe, one way or the other".

The Chinese foreign ministry said yesterday that confirmation of the delivery was "groundless rumour".

The SA Times
has a similar report:

The weapons destined for Zimbabwe have arrived in Harare, The Weekender reported today.

# Arms ship heads for Congo

# Nowhere to hide for Mugabe’s arms ship

The report said the Zimbabwean government confirmed that 3-million rounds of assault rifle ammunition, 3000 mortar rounds and 1500 rocket-propelled grenades - ordered from the Chinese government - had arrived in Harare.

The South African government denied media reports that it assisted in the delivery of the arms by fuelling the Chinese vessel, An Yue Jiang, that was transporting the arsenal.

There were fears that Robert Mugabe was planning to use force to storm back to power in the presidential runoff election to be held on June 27.

He had deployed the army, police and intelligence units across Zimbabwe to campaign for him through intimidation and coercive tactics, the report said.

The Weekender quoted a Mozambican online newspaper, Canal de Moçambique, which reported that the ship had been refueled by the SAS Drakensberg off the coast of South Africa before sailing north to offload its deadly cargo.

It reported that the ship was offloaded at Ponta Negra in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Zimbabwean government officials said it was offloaded in Angola.

Canal de Moçambique reported that President Thabo Mbeki gave "a direct instruction" to Deputy Defence Minister Mluleki George to send the SAS Drakensberg to refuel the An Yue Jiang....

George said he had no instruction from Mbeki to dispatch the SAS Drakensberg and that the allegations had no substance.

However, the Canal de Moçambique article also said the arms were flown to Harare in an Ilyushin Il-76 belonging to Avient Aviation, a freight charter airline based in Zimbabwe but registered in the UK.

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