Note: This article is from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph:
(by Christopher Munnion, April 23, 2008, Telegraph.co.uk) Johannesburg – The United States pressed China yesterday to halt a shipment of weapons to Zimbabwe and stop further sales amid mounting international pressure against the deliveries.
Tom Casey, the State Department spokesman, said America had asked Beijing “to refrain from making additional shipments and, if possible, to bring this one back”, referring to the cargo of the An Yue Jiang.
The Chinese foreign ministry had said earlier that the An Yue Jiang “may return to China” if it was not allowed to unload its cargo, but insisted that the vessel was “engaged in perfectly normal trade”.
Dubbed “the ship of shame” in South Africa, the An Yue Jiang is believed to be carrying three million rounds of ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds.
While they were ordered last year [before the election], the opposition [party] Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] said it feared that the weapons could be used to “wage war” on its supporters prior to a possible run-off in Zimbabwe’s presidential vote involving President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr Casey said: “We don’t think that under the present circumstances, given the current political crisis in Zimbabwe, that now is the time for anyone to be increasing the number of weapons and armaments available in that country.”
The US said it would press African nations to refuse the An Yue Jiang docking rights or face worsened relations with Washington.
The ship has so far been refused by South Africa, Mozambique and Angola. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said it was mobilizing its affiliates in Africa to prevent the ship unloading.
“Our objective is to take a firm stand to stop the offloading of these weapons which could be used to kill innocent Zimbabweans,” said Sprite Zungu, the ITF spokesman in Durban. “That includes all ports in Angola.”
The MDC said: “These weapons were not going to be used on mosquitoes but clearly meant to butcher innocent civilians whose only crime is rejecting dictatorship and voting for change.”
The leaders of all Church denominations in Zimbabwe meanwhile called for international intervention against the ruling Zanu-PF party’s national terror campaign.
A statement released by three Church organizations said: “Organized violence against individuals, families and communities who are accused of campaigning or voting for the ‘wrong’ political party… has been unleashed throughout the country,”
In South Africa, Jacob Zuma, the president of the ruling ANC, said Africa had to send an urgent mission to Zimbabwe to end the delay in issuing election results.
“The delay is not acceptable,” he said. “It is not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone out to elect the kind of party and president they want.”
A US embassy spokesman said that America’s senior diplomat for Africa was due to visit South Africa today for talks on Zimbabwe.
Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, will meet government officials at the start of a tour that is to include several other countries in the region.
Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the Telegraph. Visit the website at telegraph.co.uk.
NOTE: Read the background information below before answering the questions.
1. What has the U.S. asked China to do regarding Zimbabwe?
2. How has China responded?
3. What specifically is the An Yue Jiang carrying?
4. In addition to asking China to stop the An Yue Jiang’s shipment, what is the U.S. doing to prevent it from reaching Mugabe in Zimbabwe?
5. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) website states “The ITF represents transport workers around the world and promotes their interests through global campaigning and solidarity.” (Visit the ITF website here.)
What is the ITF doing to prevent the weapons from reaching Robert Mugabe?
6. Which countries so far have refused to allow the ship to dock in their ports? (Click here for a map of Africa.)
7. What are churches in Zimbabwe doing about Mugabe’s national terror campaign?
8. What does the leader of the ruling political party in South Africa say about the situation?
Read the following before answering the questions:
- Robert Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s only ruler since gaining independence from Great Britain.
- Mugabe’s chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities.
- Ignoring international condemnation, Mugabe rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection.
- Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party used fraud and intimidation to win a two-thirds majority in the March 2005 parliamentary election, allowing it to amend the constitution at will and recreate the Senate, which had been abolished in the late 1980s.
- In April 2005, Mugabe’s administration embarked on Operation Restore Order, [claiming that it was] an urban rationalization program, [but it] resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition [MDC party], according to UN estimates.
- President Mugabe in June 2007 instituted price controls on all basic commodities causing panic buying and leaving store shelves empty for months.
- Zimbabwe held a presidential election along with a parliamentary election on March 29, 2008. The candidates were current president Robert Mugabe of the ZANU-PF party, and Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
- No official results have been released; the failure to release results has been strongly criticized by the MDC, which is seeking an order from the High Court that would force their release.
- An independent projection placed Tsvangirai in the lead, but without the majority needed to avoid a second round. The MDC has, however, declared that Tsvangirai won a narrow majority in the first round and has refused to participate in any second round.
- ZANU-PF has said that Mugabe will participate in a second round if one is necessary; however, ZANU-PF is alleging that some electoral officials, in connection with the MDC, fraudulently reduced Mugabe’s score, and the party has requested a recount.
- It is widely believed that Mugabe’s party is trying to steal the presidency once again for him.
The majority of the information above is from the CIA World FactBook. Read more here.
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.