Conflict & Justice

Dispute over Zimbabwe weapons shipment

(How much weaponry are we talking about here and do we know for sure who the end user is supposed to be?) We know the cargo is from Beijing and we know it's destined for Zimbabwe because that's all in the documentation. There is approx. 77 tons of small arms, including more than 3 million rounds of ammunition, assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades. Some people would say the timing of this is suspicious. (What do they suspect?) The fear is that these weapons could be used against the opposition. (How does the South African government feel about the shipment?) They have so far put out one statement that they do not intend to interfere and they're not in a position to act unilaterally. They note there is no arms embargo. That's produced a lot of opposition here. And this is at a time when the President of South Africa has been strongly criticized for not taking a strong enough stand against Robert Mugabe and the government in Zimbabwe. (The dockworkers do seem to have a problem with the notion of these weapons being offloaded. What authority do the dockworkers have to do this?) I think it is a moral authority, but they can call a strike against this shipment. There would be little the authorities would be able to do. Other protesters say they're going to block the roads and stop the trucks which would take the weapons over the land into Zimbabwe. (Could scabs be brought in to offload the weapons?) I think there would be strong resistance from the unions themselves from that happening. It could turn into a nasty flashpoint and it will have to be handled very carefully.

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