2nd batch of weapons to be flown in from China

PRETORIA - A second shipment of considerably-more-sophisticated Chinese weaponry destined for Zimbabwe will be flown to Harare from China within the
next week, according to South Africa's News 24.

It was going to be taken by aircraft to expedite the delivery and to circumvent the controversy around last week’s shipment by sea. (see story and pic page 3) The decision apparently was made on Monday by Zimbabwean military generals during an emergency meeting.

Both orders were apparently placed only weeks ago. The paperwork for the ship carrying the weapons, the An Yue Jiang, was finalised in Beijing on

April 1 – three days after the Zimbabwean elections.

The step to rather use an aircraft apparently was taken to keep the nature and extent of the load secret from the outside world.

“What is known is that the kind of weaponry which is manufactured in Shenzhen, in the second consignment, is highly sophisticated and not just the kind of basic mortars and ammunition that’s on the ship,” reported News 24.

Shortly after Durban High Court issued an order against the transport of the weapons across South African territory, the ship fled. Since then, it had sailed around Cape Point and was already in Namibian territorial waters by early Monday morning.

In the meantime, the South African Transport Allied Workers Union (Satawu) made an appeal in the interest of peace in the region to all countries in

Africa not to allow the Chinese ship into its harbours.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has condemned moves by any of its member states to allow the weapons into Zimbabwe.

SADC Chairman,  Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa, condemned the development arguing that reports of the arms destined for Zimbabwe should be treated with “great suspicion.”

He insisted that the Chinese should be forced back by all African nations insisting that its motive was against the democratic principles and human rights values.

SADC Executive Secretary Dr. Tomaz Salomao and Zambia’s foreign affairs minister, Kabinga Pande, echoed Mwanawasa’ sentiments. Namibia’s Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) said in a statement that it planned to go to court if it appeared as if Namibia were to be used as a transit route.

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