- Presidents of Angola and Namibia have been urged not to allow an arm shipment destined for Zimbabwe to be unloaded at their sea ports.
In a letter to the two Presidents, the International Trade Union Confederation [ITUC] and the International Transport Workers’ Federation [ITF]said a refusal by the two countries to unload the arm shipment was guninne.
The arms, which forms part of a cargo aboard the Chinese-owned ship An Yue Jiang, left South Africa's Durban harbour at the weekend after dock workers refused to unload it.
Durban High Court ruled that the arms be put under the control of the the area's Sheriff division, but it had departed and is believed to heading for either Namibia or Angola. It has also been refused permission to dock in Mozambique.
South African courts have also ordered that the ship’s cargo to be impounded following a case brought by German development bank KfW IPEX-Bank seeking compensation for unpaid debts incurred by the Mugabe regime.
"We are deeply concerned at the possibility that the Mugabe regime could get its hands on these weapons and use them against Zimbabweans who do not support Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, which is clearly trying to manipulate the results of the March 29 elections," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.
Zimbabwean officials defended that it was the country's right to acquire arms to defend itself, especially when the need arises.
But activists disagreed there was no need for ams shipment to the southern African country, especially at a time it has been accused of cracking down on opposition supporters. At least ten opposition supporters were reportedly killed and many others injured after thugs of the ruling Zanu-PF party attacked them in the recent violence.
Zimbabwe's 29th March presidential election results are yet to be made public. The electoral commission said the results would only be published if the anomalies were addressed.
The ITUC-affiliated Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, backed by South African affiliate COSATU and others in the region, has called for international solidarity action to stop the arms reaching the country, and has requested the official All China Federation of Trade Unions to take supporting action in the country of origin of the shipment, China.
"The ITF and its affiliates in the region are monitoring the situation very closely, and will maintain pressure on the governments concerned and the ship’s owners until the arms are either placed under the control of the Sheriff of Durban, or returned to the country of origin. The international trade union movement will not let up in its campaign to support democracy and workers’ rights in Zimbabwe," said ITF General Secretary David Cockroft.
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