Zim-bound Arms Cleared

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JOHANNESBURG

A Chinese ship police said contains arms destined for Zimbabwe has been cleared to dock and unload its cargo at a South African port, a transport utility spokesman said on Wednesday.

“We wish to confirm that this vessel with its cargo destined for Zimbabwe is at anchorage outside the Port of Durban,” John Dludlu, spokesman for Transnet, said in a statement, according to SAPA news agency.

“As is procedure with all vessels, the vessel and its cargo have been cleared by the relevant authorities,” Dludlu said.

He declined to say whether the vessel An Yue Jiang was carrying weapons, as police said on Wednesday. Customs officials also would not confirm the arms report. It was not clear how the cargo would reach neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The ship’s arrival in South Africa came amid fears that violence could erupt in Zimbabwe if the political stalemate over the March 29 elections remained unresolved.

Election officials in Zimbabwe have not released the results of the presidential election despite intense pressure to do so by the international community and the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has declared victory in both the presidential and parliamentary elections and demanded that President Robert Mugabe step down and hand over power.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has said he is preparing for a second ballot run-off. His ruling Zanu-PF party is also challenging some of the parliamentary poll results, which showed it losing its majority for the first time.

China is among the nations that have good relations with Mugabe, who is seen as a pariah in much of the West.

Critics accuse Mugabe of suppressing political dissent, violating human rights and mismanaging the economy. Mugabe says the economy has been sabotaged by Western states as punishment for his land reform.

Die Burger newspaper yesterday reported that the Chinese ship was carrying three million rounds of ammunition, 3??????’??

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