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Weapons delivered via the An Yue Jiang have allegedly arrived in Harare

We've been alerted to two reports via our comments today:

The first came from Tokunbo, alerting us to an article published yesterday in the Mozambican press. It's in Portuguese - can anyone do us a rough translation of the key facts?

The second alert via Tara, to this article published today. The link to the article is here, the full text below:

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

The report said the Zimbabwean government confirmed that three million rounds of assault rifle ammunition, 3 000 mortar rounds and 1 500 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 run-off 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, which reported that the ship had been refuelled 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.

The report said 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.

Presidential spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga dismissed the reports, saying "it seems that the season of propaganda is upon us".

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

However, the online 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. This was confirmed by government officials in Harare, The Weekender said.

Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga confirmed the weapons have been delivered.

The Angolan government's assistance came after an appeal by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, to member states to bar the delivery of the ammunition to Zimbabwe, saying the arms could deepen the country's election crisis.

The US and British governments had also exerted concerted pressure on the SADC and China to stop the ship from docking in the region.

The ship has been spotted off the coast of Port Elizabeth, The Weekender said.


4th Chimurenga says:

Bug In Blog

I posted a link about this story and 3 others (B4 11am) but they havent appeared on your blog. I am very sure that they were non violent comments as i have been posting several other letters for some months now. Have you now voluntarily  devised a segregatory measure  for eliminating some of our posts for unjust and undisclosed reasons or we should just assume its a bug????

Submitted by 4th Chimurenga on 17 May 2008 - 3:30pm
Sokwanele says:

I didn't see the comments 4th Chimurenga otherwise absolutely would have published them. Really very sorry about that! There must be a glitch somewhere but I'm not sure its the blog because all the other comments were there, including the less desirable ones.

Submitted by Sokwanele on 17 May 2008 - 3:36pm
Tokunbo says:

sorry, i was in a rush. here is a rough translation (my nanny would be proud of me for doing this off the top of my head):
the article says: the SAS drakensberg, ship of the south african navy, restocked the chinese cargo ship an yue jiang with petrol as the ship rounded the cape of good hope after having been rejected at the port of durban with 77 tonnes of various war materiel destined for the regime of robert mugabe. the orders to resupply the an yue jiang, also known as the 'ship of shame', came from thabo mbeki, the south african president and were directly transmitted to the vice-minister of defence, george mluleki.
the drakensberg's main mission is to provide help and assistance to ships of the south african navy on the high seas. made in the south african naval shipyard during the apartheid era, the drakensberg has the capacity to transport 5,500 tonnes of diesel. refueling of other ships by the drakensberg has taken place at an average of 40 tonnes an hour. the maximum capacity of the an yue jiang is of 1,155 tons of fuel.
even though the drakensberg refueled the chinese ship, the electronic systems of the south african navy maintained that the an yue jiang was outside of both its radar and also undetectable by satellite, facts which led the Maritime Information Union of the insurance company Lloyds to declare the cargo as "lost".
the refueling by the south african ship enabled the an yue jiang to continue in the direction of pointe-noire in the republic of congo [congo-brazzaville] where it proceeded to unload 77 tons of war materiel destined to reinforce the capacity of the oppressive regime of Harare. From Pointe-Noire, the weapons were transported in an Ilyushin Il-76 belonging to the zimbabwean airline company Avient, which is officially registered in [address in UK]. This permitted the vice-minister of information of the Harare regime, Bright Matonga, to announce that the arms sent by China have arrived into the hands of the ZANU-PF led government.
the chinese authorities fooled the international community, officially saying that the 'ship of shame' had received orders to return to china. in reality, the government of the peoplel's republic of china was in collaboration with the south african goverment, the whole time ensuring that the arms arrived in the hands of the harare regime and also through certain diplomatic channels

Submitted by Tokunbo on 17 May 2008 - 3:48pm
Tokunbo says:

the mail & guardian says the arms were offloaded in angola. the canal do moçambique says they were offloaded in congo-brazza. bright does not deny their arrival, and out of nowhere tsvangirai says he’s not going back to zimbabwe.

those arms have arrived, folks.

Submitted by Tokunbo on 17 May 2008 - 4:32pm
Tara says:

There is a bug, somewhere... I have also posted comments re links etc that wouldn't go through. Once with a specific post which seemed to give problems after 2 comments was posted and I was sure that other people would have left comments on the topic as well.
Link below says it all in the heading. Mostly the same as the links provided above. So it's just for your info. Seeing that it was broadcasted on SABC.

I will not comment on this just yet as you will definitely not be able to  publish my thoughts on the matter!

South Africa denies aiding Chinese arms ship,2172,169722,00.html

Submitted by Tara on 17 May 2008 - 4:32pm
Tokunbo says:

i'm having the feeling that they're going to say something like "there is no such place in the drc" to be able to wiggle out of it.
and they will be right of course, as pointe-noire is in the republic of congo. kabila gets the blame, sassou-nguesso gets off, dos santos gets off, and we have a nice little "incident" in zim.
i'm completely convinced that the announcement of the date of the elections has EVERYTHING to do with the arrival of the arms.

Submitted by Tokunbo on 17 May 2008 - 4:40pm
Sandra says:

That is such a dirty game. For what we need democratic rules, laws or elections when all lies in the hand of some players who always do what they want....

By the way I had also problems to post something in the last two days and it wasn't working

Submitted by Sandra on 17 May 2008 - 5:02pm
CC says:

(About five of my posts, all of them with links, have disappeared at the moderation stage. Hehe no I didn't think that someone was censoring them, sorry should have raised it sooner.)

This story seems pretty plausible, but here are a couple of positive thoughts just in case.

Bright Matonga already said 10 days ago that 'the weapons are already in Zimbabwe anyway'. Given the evidence today, logically, the truth of the latter statement precludes the truth of the former, but we don't need logic to know that Bright Matonga's 'confirmations' are worth squat.

At the end of the day, it is in the old man's strategic interest to make zimbabweans and others believe that the weapons are already in zim.

I do agree that essentially it seems plausible.

Just remember folk, you made life one hell of a lot more difficult for quite a lot of people for a long time. You gave them some grey hairs. You cost them money. You made them feel panicked and insecure. You cost quite a few countries vital PR points at an important time.  
This was one hell of a stink and the 'ship of shame' will forever be an example of when ordinary people rallied together, to the detriment of brutal regimes and their supporters. All of these are an important part of the civic struggle for freedom.

Now what shall we do?

Submitted by CC on 17 May 2008 - 5:19pm
Sokwanele says:

Problems with comments

Thanks for letting us know about the posting problem.

I think that what may have happened is you may have had too many links in your comments and they were treated as 'spam' by our system.

We'll add a note above to advise no more than 6 links per comment (we've increased it slightly to test).

Unfortunately, we have to use the spam feature because we are utterly bombarded with offers for drugs, women, and software all the time.

I am sorry about the problems that caused, please keep us posted if you still have hassles.


Submitted by Sokwanele on 17 May 2008 - 6:02pm
BeeSA says:

I have sent the following email to the following newspapers: (I have removed my personal email adress from this copy)

PLEASE investigate this story :

Zimbabwe ARMS DELIVERY and Avient Airlines Ltd

Weapons arrive in Zim - report 2008-5-17 11:30
Johannesburg - The weapons destined for Zimbabwe have arrived in Harare, The Weekender reported on Saturday.

...] The report said 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.

...] However, the online 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. This was confirmed by government officials in Harare, The Weekender said.


My email to Mr Andrew Smith - MD Avient Ltd :
From: Belinda [mailto:################]
Sent: 26 April 2008 12:44
Subject: Zimbabwe arms shipment transportation

Is this statement true ?????? "Yesterday a press report linked a UK cargo company, Avient Limited, to a possible “plan B” for transporting the weapons"
Is Avient REALLY going to assist in shipping these arms to Zimbabwe? If so, I doubt Avient will be in business for much longer. If it's NOT TRUE please issue a statement to this effect urgently and submit it to the above-mentioned activists and website administrators. Avient Limited is in a bad position with a statement such as this.


reply email received from Mr Andrew Smith - MD Avient Ltd :
----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew Smith
To: #########################
Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 5:44 PM
Subject: FW: Zimbabwe arms shipment transportation

The suggestion that we are linked to such a scheme is highly inaccurate. The article actually reads
Military officials have also discussed the possibility of hiring a private operator, Avient Aviation, a British cargo charter airline that has previously flown into Zimbabwe. However, this is unlikely, a source said.

There has been no contact with any member of this company to request any form of assistance to move the suggested cargo. Avient has a clear international policy that we do not carry any arms and ammunition for anyone. Please advise who the so termed administrators/activists are with their addressees and email addresses so that the matter can be cleared immediately. Many people their families and dependants rely on Avient for their livelihood and many people throughout the continent of Africa are serviced by us carrying commercial cargo on a daily basis.
Andrew R H Smith
Managing Director
The Barn Cottage,
Brigmerston, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 8HX
Tel: 00 44 (0) 1980 676010
Fax:00 44(0) 1980 654954


Approximately one week after receiving this email from Mr Smith I read an article stating that ALL the Directors of Avient Air are currently UNDER INVESTIGATION with an international aviation organisation for transporting arms illegally into Sierra Leone.

Mr Smith has DENIED involvement YET we have contradicting reports.

Their involvement with Robert Mugabe is nothing short of MURDEROUS and they too will have the blood of INNOCENT civilians on their hands!!!! Avient should be SHUT DOWN !!!

Please do not hesitate to contact me for forwards of the emails between Mr Smith and myself, with full headers.

aka BeeSA


This has been sent to :

Sky News
Sky News Radio
Sky News Online
Mail & Guardian UK
New York Times
San Fancisco Chronicles
International Herald Tribune
Los Angeles Times
Chicago Tribune
Washington Post Print
Washington Post Online
Weekend Argus

I'm focussing on more UK and South African newspapers now and will keep going.

Submitted by BeeSA on 17 May 2008 - 6:23pm


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