Minister claims controversial Chinese arms now in Zimbabwe

By Lance Guma
06 May 2008

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga on Sunday claimed that the controversial shipment of arms from China, initially blocked by South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia, was now in Zimbabwe. Responding to criticism of the shipment during a panel discussion on Iranian sponsored ‘Press TV’ Matonga is said to have derisively retorted, ‘in any case that shipment is already in Zimbabwe.’

Press TV’s ‘Four Corners’ programme hosted a debate between Matonga, Briggs Bomba from Africa Action, Zanu PF apologist George Shire and an unnamed journalist. Bomba spoke to Newsreel Tuesday and expressed his disappointment at how Angola, contrary to its official position, might have helped Mugabe’s regime get their hands on the deadly cargo.

The Chinese ship ‘An Yue Jiang’ was carrying 3 million rounds of ammunition for AK-47’s, 1500 rocket propelled grenades and 3000 mortar rounds and tubes. Pressure from trade unions and civil society groups in the SADC region ensured the ship spent weeks failing to get permission to offload. Emerson Mnangagwa, the man in charge of Zimbabwe’s terror campaign through the Joint Operations Command, is said to have travelled to Angola and met President Eduardo dos Santos last week, in an effort to have the shipment allowed through.

Angola officially declined to authorise the offloading of the Zimbabwean arms shipment, but no one knows if they kept their word. The picture continues to get to murkier with other reports suggesting the Angolan President’s jet, a Falcon 900, was sighted in Zimbabwe Tuesday evening. No further details were available. Malawi’s Nyasa Times newspaper added to the speculation by claiming intelligence agents from Malawi had travelled to Angola to help clear the shipment on behalf of the Zimbabwean regime.

 

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