|04-21-2008, 12:52 PM||#1|
Curio & Relic
AKaholic #: 3738
Join Date: Apr 2005
South African port workers refuse to move arms for Zimbabwe
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - South African port and truck workers are refusing to move weapons from a ship that docked in the country on its way to Zimbabwe, union officials said Friday.
The move could add to pressure on South African President Thabo Mbeki to take a harder line on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of withholding the results of an election his opposition says it won. Mbeki has argued that Mugabe is unlikely to respond to a confrontational approach.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions applauded the stance by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, and reiterated its calls for Zimbabwean electoral officials to release the results of the March 29 presidential elections.
"This vessel must return to China with the arms on board, as South Africa cannot be seen to be facilitating the flow of weapons into Zimbabwe at a time where there is a political dispute and a volatile situation," the union congress said in a statement.
Human rights groups say there has been increasing violence against Zimbabwe's opposition supporters in the postelection period. The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights group says its members has treated more than 150 cases of injuries consistent with assault and torture since the vote.
On Thursday, South African government spokesman Themba Maseko said officials could not intervene to stop the Chinese arms shipment from reaching Zimbabwe as long as administrative papers were in order.
The An Yue Jiang, a Chinese ship carrying the weapons, was anchored just outside Durban harbor after receiving permission late Wednesday to dock.
Still, Maseko made South Africa's strongest comments about Zimbabwe, criticizing the failure to release election results and calling the situation "dire."
A South African government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that there are weapons on board the Chinese ship but gave no further details.
China is one of Zimbabwe's main trade partners and allies.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the archbishop of Durban and spokesman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, called Friday for the South African government "not to allow any more arms and munitions to enter Zimbabwe through South Africa until an acceptable solution is found to the present situation." The bishops also repeated appeals for an international mediator to intervene in Zimbabwe.
The Southern Africa Litigation Center, an independent human rights group, said Friday it has asked a court to stop the arms from being transported on to Zimbabwe.
Mary Robinson, the former U.N. human rights chief, applauded the unions for taking a stand.
"How positive it is that ordinary dockers have refused to allow that boat to go further," Robinson said during a conference in Senegal on governance in Africa. "They as individuals have taken the responsibility. Because they believe it's not right."
Daraclor: A brand of anti-malaria pills which we had to drink every week while on the border. Legend had it that these would make you turn yellow and that you wouldn't be able to tan.
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