Saturday, April 19, 2008

Zimbabwe - arms race

There is a Chinese ship carrying weapons intended for delivery to Mugabe's forces. It was turned away at the port of Durban after the South African transport workers refused to unload them, a decision upheld by a judge. (Once again, no thanks to the current SA government, which disgracefully was quite willing to let the weapons be shipped across SA to Zimbabwe. Unions, churches, and concerned citizens prevented the transit of the weapons.)

After efforts to make arrangements to offload in Mozambique, whose authorities refused permission to dock, the ship is now heading for Angola.

The results of the Zimbabwe election, now three weeks in the past, are still not being released, and there is every sign that Mugabe and ZANU-PF want to have these weapons -- 70 tons of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and AK-47 ammunition -- before the results of their fraudulent "recount" are announced. Ten Chinese officers carrying revolvers have checked in at the Holiday Inn in Mutare, Zimbabwe, where about 70 senior officers of the Zimbabwean army are also staying. They are going back and forth between the hotel and the army headquarters. The official line, which we've heard from our own government in many similar situations, is that they're there to protect their country's economic interests. But the weapons shipment and the meetings make it look very much as if they're advising and assisting Mugabe's efforts to subdue the population and thwart democracy.

Actions around the world (see end of this post) are helping Zimbabweans to know they're not alone as the crisis deepens. Continue to urge the African Union and regional body SADC to send a delegation to Harare to support the demand for immediate release of the election results. Urge the government of Angola to refuse transit to the Chinese weapons shipment (link to details to follow).



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