Zimbabwe: Archbishop Tutu on the Arms Trade

Archbishop Desmond Tutu comments on the “Ship of Shame” that was carrying Chinese arms for Zimbabwe. It seems to be headed back to China after offloading “construction materials” in Luanda, but it might be headed for Congo-Brazzaville. Others speculate that a ship-to-ship transfer is still possible. So far the biggest loser is China, whose reputation in Africa for doing business without bothering about human rights is now becoming a liability.

Govern global arms trade | The Australian

IN the present scandal of the attempt to ship tonnes of arms and ammunition to Zimbabwe, it is the Chinese who have spoken the most sense. Chinas foreign ministry said the countrys shipment of mortar shells, rockets and bullets was perfectly normal trade.

It certainly is. Shipping arms to African governments who could use them to abuse their own people is an abhorrent but almost daily occurrence. And at present there is nothing the international community can do about it because there are no effective global controls on the arms trade.

If you want to export weapons to a country that commits gross abuses of human rights, then you can. If you want to sell expensive kit to governments struggling to feed or educate their people, its really no problem. You might have to use a few tricks to get around the flimsy patchwork of controls that presently exist but its easy and its done all the time.

The case of the An Yue Jiang and its cargo is different because it happened at a politically fraught time, for both Zimbabwe and China, and because the whole world has heard about it.

Archbishop Tutu calls for the UN to do something constructive about international arms trade. I hope they get off their collective asses, too.

Angola Pressures Zimbabwe on Arms – New York Times

Thank God, this seems to be confirmed. It’s so weird reading about these details in blog comments before the mainstream news picks it up. Although it can backfire – an air transport company was getting tons of activist mail, and they got pretty irritated about it and tracked down at least one activist blog to complain. Basiccally, they were saying “call your people off, we’re not transporting the arms” OWTTE

Angola Pressures Zimbabwe on Arms – New York Times

Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the opposition, welcomed the news that Angola had refused the Zimbabwe shipment, saying, “Mugabe is finally being routed by his own set.”

The announcement about the ship, which was posted Saturday on Angola’s official news Web site, was displayed in a way sure to enrage Mr. Mugabe. The article was placed immediately beside a photograph of Angola’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, warmly shaking hands with Jendayi E. Frazer, America’s top diplomat for Africa.

On Thursday, Ms. Frazer declared that Mr. Tsvangirai had beaten Mr. Mugabe, perhaps by an outright majority. Her statement was denounced by Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister as proof of “the Western axis” behind what he called illegal efforts to topple Mr. Mugabe, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper.

Zimbabwe: Lloyd’s MIU – 20017525399 Over The Horizon

The An Yue Jiang may have been turned around and headed back to China, as reported by the Beeb and the NYT, but maybe they’re just headed out to sea to do a little “over-the-horizon” transfer work. Sokwanele/This is Zimbabwe says “Don’t celebrate just yet:”

Lloyd’s MIU – 20017525399

But the following is invaluable information for activists in many countries:

Given the public interest in following the movements of the ship An Yue Jiang, which is reported to be carrying arms to Zimbabwe, Lloyd’s MIU (www.lloydsmiu.com) is tracking this vessel via satellites and agents covering all African ports.

The vessel may be hidden from satellite tracking at present, so our focus is on likely ports of call for discharging its cargo, potential re-fuelling stops (given it did not re-fuel at Durban), and all vessels in that coastal area that it could transfer its cargo onto while it is at sea, in particular, two vessels belonging to the same owner.

There are 32 ports in Africa, south of the equator, physically capable of accommodating An Yue Jiang. Given the intense media interest, and the fact this ship has six cranes on board, an increasingly likely scenario is the possibility of a ship-to-ship transfer of the controversial cargo “over the horizon” while the vessel is at sea. It is also possible for the ship to be refuelled at sea, which would allow it to continue further afield and then continue the shipment via land.

Lloyd’s MIU data shows there are currently 311 vessels that in the area of a type and size capable of receiving this cargo, 2 of these vessels belong to COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Group Company), which has owned the An Yue Jiang since its launch over 21 years ago. COSCO owns around 700 vessels, 150 of which are of a general cargo designation.

Zimbabwe: More Details Emerging

The Times – Bob’s Mad Scramble For Weapons

The Sunday Times has established that this week’s Chinese shipment of arms turned away from Durban harbour on Friday was just one of several botched attempts by the embattled Mugabe regime to buy arms this year.

One well-placed Zimbabwean defence industry official told the Sunday Times: “In the first three working days after the election, there were queues of people outside (arms procurement) offices — police, the presidential bodyguard unit, army, the CIO.

There’s lots of stuff happening today… it’s amazing, frankly, how many people all over the world are mobilizing to find out more information and try to stop this shipment.

Zimbabwe: An Yue Jiang Lost, Stolen, or Strayed?

The An Yue Jiang, the Chinese ship that’s supposed to be carrying tons of arms for Zimbabwe left Durban for port or ports unknown; some thought it was headed for nearby Mozambique, but the Mozambicans pulled an Amy Winehouse and denied it access (after first denying it was headed their way, hmm). Now it’s thought to be headed to Angola (there’s a lovely thought, how much of the cargo will actually stay in whatever port eventually accepts it?). The BBC News site has some smuggled video footage (they are banned from officially reporting from within Zimbabwe, but get around it).

Meanwhile, venerable maritime underwriter Lloyd’s of London reports a ship by the name of An Yue Jiang is a “casualty”. I couldn’t register to look at the report, even under the free trial membership. If anyone reading this blog has access to Lloyd’s reports, please post them in the comments section of the Sokwanele/This Is Zimbabwe post linked below. I saved a copy of the screenshot showing the ship on the casualty list, but can’t upload it for some reason.

This is Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Action: Stop the An Yue Jiang from delivering Chinese weapons to Zimbabwe