A massive shipment of arms aboard the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang’, has been met by a united African front to prevent the arms reaching Zimbabwe, which were reportedly ordered three days after the elections.
On Friday, members of the South African Transport and Allied workers union refused to offload the weapons from the ship in Durban. A legal challenge was made and accepted by the South African High Court which ruled that the cargo could not be transported overland through South Africa.
Zimbabwean trade union leader Lovemore Matombo stated, The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has been greatly alarmed at the discovery of the arms cache and says no to the delivery of the arms of war as the country is not at war.
On Monday, trade unions representing dock workers in Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and Namibia have followed the South African lead by stating that they will not unload the arms should the ship attempt to dock in their territory.
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) is mobilising its affiliate unions in southern Africa to stop the arms transfer. ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said: The ITF, our member trade unions and the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) are doing everything we consider necessary to stop this dangerous and destabilising shipment reaching Zimbabwe. We will continue to do so, we hope with the support of the regions’ governments, but without them if necessary. This material must not reach Zimbabwe, a country whose people are crying out for food and freedom, not bullets.
Tony Dykes, Director of Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) said, Ordering such a large quantity of arms immediately after the elections increases fear. If these arms arrive they could contribute to greater violence and intimidation. The solidarity being shown by workers in southern African countries with their colleagues in Zimbabwe is admirable and we congratulate them on their stand. We are calling on China and indeed all countries not to supply nor facilitate arms to Zimbabwe at this time.
There have been numerous credible reports of increased state sponsored violence since the election. The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights had recorded 242 cases of organised violence and torture by 17th April. Â
ACTSA today launched a campaign calling on the Chinese government to stop the shipment of arms to Zimbabwe and adhere to the South African court ruling which will prevent any transfer of arms through its territory. ACTSA is also supporting a petition by the International Action Network on Small Arms to call on southern African governments to stop the consignment and to impound the arms in order that they do not find another way into Zimbabwe.
ÂPost published in: News