China Zimbabwe Arms Deal: An Yue Jiang now removed from casualty list at Lloyds MIU

The controversial Chinese ship, the An Yue Yang, which is bearing 77 tonnes of arms and weapons destined for Zimbabwe, set sail from Durban without refuelling. When the vessel was reported as a casualty yesterday morning (GMT+2), it confirmed Jasa’s (Justice Alliance of South Africa) suspicions that the An Ye Jiang had insufficient fuel to reach its destination: Luanda, Angola.

Navy sources said that although the ship switched off its transponder when it left the harbour, it was being tracked via satellite by the South African Navy, the South African Police Services, Interpol and other international intelligence organisations. The navy did not wish to comment on the exact location of the An Ye Jiang at that time. (Source: Beeld)

A rough calculation based on a sea speed of approximately 30km/h, would have taken the ship to Luanda by Tuesday evening. Assuming that it had indeed sailed towards Luanda, the ship will have been located somewhere between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town when it (perhaps ran out of fuel, and) was added to the register.

Now, somewhere between midnight and 8am (GMT+2) today, the controversial arms ship was removed from the Lloyds MIU Vessel Casualty register.

There are only two possible reasons for this: The ship may have been clandestinely refuelled during the night or it may have been intercepted by the Navy. If the latter holds true, the ship could be escorted to one of the commercial harbours or, considering the controversies surrounding the vessel, it may even be taken into a naval harbour instead.

Until the Navy decides to offer further information, all we can do is wait.

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New Destination of Zimbabwe Arms Ship: Angola

Is this a Red Herring or not?
According to the South African Department of Transport, the An Yue Jiang is not going to Mozambique, but to Angola. So, either the Angolans have decided to purchase the arms from the Chinese OR they have decided to assist with the delivery of the arms.

Angola, which is run by an old freedom fighting ally of Mugabe, José Eduardo dos Santos (MPLA), is very likely to allow the weapons and arms to be off-loaded. There are effectively two ways that the arms can be taken into Zimbabwe: Ground and Air

Ground
Once the arms are on terra firma, the logistics of moving the weapons – by road or rail – to Zimbabwe from Angola, which is located on the west coast of Africa, becomes a veritable nightmare. Of all Angola’s neighbours (the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia) only Botswana, Namibia and Zambia can provide ground access for the arms shipment to reach Zimbabwe. However, the likelihood of either one of these countries granting permission is smaller than small. In addition, the roads and the railways running through Angola are by and large destroyed and the terrain extremely rough.

So, ground simply makes no sense at all.

Air
This is probably the most feasible option – albeit still a territorial infringement. Angola can use on of their state-owned airways or their military aircraft to rapidly move the arms directly to Zimbabwe. The aircraft need not cross the expanse of either Zambian or Namibian (who may retaliate) airspace.

1) They could fly to the southern Angolan border and then turn due east, heading towards the border shared between Namibia and Zambia.
2) The aircraft can then cover the short distance by moving between Zambian and Namibian airspace. This will make retaliation difficult because Namibia cannot shoot at aircraft in Zambian airspace and vice versa.
3) There will probably not be time to retaliate either. The distances from the air force bases to that particular border are vast. Once they become aware of the problem, the aircraft will be safely in Zimbabwean airspace already.

What are the options?
The SALC: The SALC can try to seek remedy from the Angolan courts. The chances of succeeding are minute. The country is fairly corrupt (in my ever-present opinion) and the government kleptocratic.
The Mbeki factor: Mbeki could exert diplomatic pressure on Dos Santos, but considering that he has yet to be seen to exert pressure on any of his former freedom fighting cronies, this could be a cold day in hell.
International pressure: Angola is an OPEC member and a beneficiary of World Bank and IMF funding. Both institutions could use this to stop Angola from allowing the weapons to be transported through the country. The World Bank and the IMF may however feel that it is neither ethical nor appropriate to hold a sovereign country hostage in this way.
Zambia and Namibia: These two countries should call Angola’s bluff: They need to proactively engage with Angola and tell them to keep clear of their air space. They should also illustrate their air presence in the area just to be sure. Not sure that they will do this though….

Red Herring or Not?
Having developed mistrust in what is being said by certain South African dignitaries (Department of Transport representatives included); the whole Angola story has a 50% chance of being fact and a 50% chance of being fiction.

So, those interested in spotting the errant ship, should keep an eagle’s eye on both the Angolan and Mozambique harbours.

State Owned Zimbabwe Herald Praises Thabo Mbeki

Here is an excerpt from the Zimbabwe Herald today:

Mbeki deserves special honour
“… President Mbeki needs to be specially commended and honoured by the whole Zimbabwean leadership and people for the sterling work that he has been doing in the past eight years. His “quiet diplomacy” and “soft power”, are actually not as quiet as the world wants to believe.

The backlash against President Mbeki’s presidency and his own personality has been immense. This is why Zimbabwe, as we celebrate 28 years of nationhood today, should say a big “THANK YOU” to this gallant son of Africa, just as we are saying thank you again to our gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed limb and soul for the independence of this nation. There is no substitute for genuine friendship; just like there will be no substitute for homegrown, genuine regional co-operation and integration. The least we can do is name one of our roads after Cde Mbeki and give him the freedom of the City of Harare.

As Wafawarova put it: “President Mbeki has had to face the agony of eight-and-a-half years of a crisis-waving Britain, but the ever alert and revolutionary Mbeki has not been fooled, even once. He saw no crisis with the land reclamation . . . He saw no crisis with the 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections . . .”

Apart from his now famous “No crisis in Zimbabwe” statement, President Mbeki also made the same statement a week earlier when he told dinner guests in London: “We have been very pleased with the manner in which the elections were conducted; the opposition had access to every part of the country, there was no violence, no one was beaten up. You have a very serious effort by the people of Zimbabwe to resolve their problems, we could see there was a common spirit among them and that’s the sense we got. And in the conduct of the election none of the parties came back to us to intervene to say something was going wrong.”

Something wrong with this picture
One has to ALWAYS take whatever is said in this Mugabe-an mouthpiece with a couple of bags of salt because it perpetuates half truths and lies nearly all of the time. However, there is an old maxim that says: The enemy of my enemy is my friend and the friend of my enemy is my enemy… or something like that, at least.

Is Robert Mugabe busy blowing sunshine up Mbeki’s behind? Or is Mugabe viewing Mbeki as a friend because he has not, at the face of it, quite given in to the pressure from within and from without South Africa? Or is Thabo Mbeki being viewed as a real friend by Robert Mugabe because he has maintained his soft (or is it wet) approach to the land grabs and the election fixing over the years?

In the final paragraph above, Thabo Mbeki is quoted by the Herald to be saying that All is Well. This may indeed be quoted out of context, or some measure of poetic license may have been applied to it. Who knows? However, regardless of the context, saying that there was no violence etc on the day of the election and then failing to mention the extent of the violence in the nearly three weeks post election, is highly irresponsible, fairly manipulating and somewhat dishonest.

The Political Plague in Africa
Behind the words in the Herald, Mugabe’s imperialistic rhetoric and Mbeki’s deafening silence, is one of the reasons why democracy in Africa is such a resounding failure.

For some reason, some of the African governments have not quite heard the penny drop that when they are democratically elected, they ARE governments and NOT liberation movements any longer. Because the majority of the population support them and have legally and democratically illustrated such support, the whole boring story of Struggle, is neither relevant nor appropriate.

But, for some reason – perhaps it is an attempt to use the past to play the audience – these elected leaders don’t move on, don’t salute the past and embrace the future, and don’t lift their eyes to the horizon. Their regressive behaviour debilitates progressive behaviour. It kills growth and it kills development.

Countries such as Botswana have not stepped into this trap of self-pitying retrospective-ness. That is why their economy is sound, their political landscape stable and their incidence of crime very low when compared to the rest of the continent. Now, Ian Seretse Khama is carrying the torch, which he took over from Festus Mogae, which he took over Quett Masire, which he took over from Ian Khama’s father: Sir Seretse Khama. A torch that burns brightly and that should be viewed as an example of what can be achieved, (by doing the right things), by their counterparts in Africa.

President Mbeki has done many right things during his term, but he has also failed miserably in others – the latest being his inability to manage the abominable situation in Zimbabwe. Fortunately it is nearing the time for him to step down: time to allow somebody younger, somebody more visionary and somebody bearing less baggage to carry the South African torch forward. There is political talent enough in our country. And, when we hold our elections next year, may the best man…or woman…win.

Zimbabwe: To Coup or Not to Coup

The courts refused ordering the election results and Mugabe has, according to his own laws, only until Saturday to hold a presidential run-off election. The lack of election results together with a run-off not being planned before Saturday means that Zimbabwe will theoretically be without a government come Sunday morning.

What are Mugabe’s options at that point in time? The one is to carry on regardless, to continue his own personal feud against the rest of humankind and to grudgingly maintain the façade of democracy by putting up with the likes of Morgan Tsvangirai. The other option he has is to stage a coup d’état and to install himself as the de facto ruler of Zimbabwe in that way.

How well is Mugabe positioned to pull off a coup?
To effectively stage a coup d’état, the following elements are required:
1) Control of the military and law enforcement arms;
2) control of the media; and
3) the ability to force the populace into submission.

Mugabe has:
1) The ownership and support of the official military, the police and the courts
2)A private army comprising of war veterans and youth militia.
3) Promoted 407 police officers last Friday: 11 officers from Chief Superintendent to Assistant Commissioner; 42 officers to Chief Superintendent, 72 to Superintendent and 282 to Chief Inspectors.
4) Placed an army general in each and every Zimbabwean province. Since 29 March, the training of new recruits, the regrouping of the war veterans and the mobilization of the Riot Units, all started in earnest.
5) Instructed the governor of the Zim Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, (who has owned up to this) to bankroll the refurbishment of 260 Defender vehicles for the military, the purchase of police uniforms and to pay for generators and borehole drilling at the Chikurubi Camp.
6) Complete control over the media.
7) Ability to quickly and violently suppress any resistance from within the country.

The answer is: Better Than Most

How likely is it for the coup to be successful?
For a coup to be successful the chances of intervention from outside the borders have to be low and should such intervention take place, it must be defendable by the military

Mugabe has:
1) The diplomatically silent allegiance of Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki is unlikely to oppose the coup by using his armed forces. Of note is that when the MDC started planning protests, the SAPS riot units were placed on standby. (First hand information) I wonder whose side they will be on?
2) No threat from any of the other neighbours. They are simply not strong enough.
3) No threat from the West. There is no oil or anything else of strategic value to gain from this. (Cynical, but pragmatic, I know)

The answer us: His chances of success are very high.

What if he fails?
No risk to the man with the small Hitler-ian moustache. He can seek and will be granted asylum in South Africa, where he is currently building a Beverly Hills type of mansion in the vicinity of the Lipizzaners in Kyalami. Mugabe won’t be destitute as he will still have the proceeds of his blood diamond and mineral mines in the Congo, not to mention income from his other shady little-publicized ventures too. And he will still have his old friend close by for a bit chit-chat after the demands of his current position cease come the time for the next South African election.

Will he do it?
Who knows whether this volatile megalomaniac is going to continue running his kleptocracy on an as-is basis or whether he is going to go for the country’s jugular by means of a coup. The choice is his – there is precious little that will influence it, except perhaps his own delusional mind.

Zimbabwe: Ruling on Releasing Election Results Postponed Until Monday

Sigh…

It is a little disappointing that the courts don’t see (or don’t want to see, are not allowed to see, whatever) the urgency of this matter. Another four or more days for Mugabe to ‘cook the books’, another four days for him to intimidate the ordinary folk of Zimbabwe with his megalomaniacal quasi-military campaigns, and another four days for death by ‘natural causes’ of electoral officials and opposition party members…

So, it is more of the waiting game, fellow Africans.

Zapiro’s cartoon is a picture that speaks a thousand words …

Zimbabwe: A Situational Update

Farm Invasion Update

The farm invasions have grown progressively worse since it started on Saturday last week:

 

1)Between 60 and 100 farms and 1 game lodge have now been invaded by War Veterans according to Trevor Gifford, the president of the Commercial Farmer’s Union.

2)The local media officer from the Ministry of Information, Mr Maunganidze, is said to be paying people to invade the farms.

3)The farm invasions have now spread to include Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central. The land of two black farmers was also grabbed because they were said to have voted for the MDC.

 

 

Intimidation & Violence Update

“Militias are being rearmed, ZANU-PF supporters are being rearmed … The long and short of it is that there has been a complete militarization of Zimbabwean society since the 29th of March 2008,” said Morgan Tsvangirai. From the accounts received to date, this is not opposition propaganda:

 

1) Zimbabwean Police arrested seven election officials, accusing them of undercounting votes cast for President Mugabe, and are to be charged with fraud

2) Zimbabwean police have assaulted more than 80 opposition activists in the western provinces of Manicaland and Matabeleland. The attack is thought to be part of Mugabe’s tactics to intimidate voters ahead of the planned presidential run-off.

3) According to informed sources, 200 senior officers of the armed forces have been deployed to lead the war veterans in a military operation aimed at forcing Zimbabweans into voting for President Robert Mugabe in the run-off.

4) In Nyamandhovu in Matabeleland North, supporters of the opposition MDC and those of independent presidential candidate Simba Makoniave been beaten up and tortured by Zanu-PF youth militias and war veterans.

5) In Sigaba Village two MDC youths, were assaulted by a group of 10 Zanu-PF youths who accused them of being sell-outs.

6) The shop of former ZIPRA freedom fighter, Stanley Wolfenden, was raided and shut down on Friday. He was accused of drumming up support for Makoni during the election campaign.

 

South Africa’s Attitude Update

Nothing has really changed…

 

1) Aziz Pahad, South African deputy foreign minister, said that “foreign media and the international community were orchestrating the destabilisation of Zimbabwe and had unfairly accused Mugabe of wanting to “steal” the elections by delaying announcement of the results.”  

Sies Aziz!!! Been there of late?

 

2) Mbeki, Tsvangirai talks ‘not on the diary’

The president is in India now, doing goodness knows what – shirking his responsibilities back home.

 

3) ANC president Jacob Zuma crtiticised the delays in releasing the election results.

He took no stance in as far as Mugabe is concerned, but this is a good start at least.

 

4) Archbishop Tutu said: “They are tipping over the precipice. Violence is very much in the air. I would have hoped there would be a great deal more pressure, not just from South Africa but from the international community.On the whole, African leadership has not done themselves proud on this one.”

Could not have put it better myself. Not inclined to maintain Diplomatic Silence (hint, hint, President Mbeki), the Archbishop has said his say, and hit the nail on the head. That is why I (and many others) respect him so much!

Zimbabwe: The Deafening Noise of South African Silence

Comment: How does one transform so much chaos into one harmonious piece of written work? The answer is: You can’t. So, if the blog entry seems a little incoherent, I apologise in advance.

No, enough has not been said about the matter of South Africa’s spineless approach to the travesty of democracy in Zimbabwe and no, not enough is being done about it either, by anybody.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph reported that Gordon Brown’s renewed efforts to convince South African President Thabo Mbeki – who is attending the Progressive Governance Conference in the UK at present – to intervene, is falling on deaf ears and that Mbeki is not prepared to criticise the vampiric Mugabe regime at all. Does this construe an endorsement of this political vampire’s rule on the part of the South African government?

How I hope that this is not the case…

I read an article written by one of the best journalists ever produced by our country: Justice Malala – http://www.thetimes.co.za/Columnists/News/Article.aspx?id=736745. This, together with a special report that appeared in my favourite newspaper, The Mail And Guardian – http://www.mg.co.za -, have inspired me to share with you just how loud the Sound of South African Silence on the Zimbabwean crisis really is.
Drinking the Life Blood of the Press
In addition to the one television station, both the Zimbabwean newspapers are state controlled and, to practice journalism, you have to be licensed by the Mugabe regime. This control enables Mugabe to relentlessly portray the likes of Makoni and Tsvangirai as puppets of the West, sell-outs and agents of imperialism. Makoni, who has left Zanu-PF, has been portrayed as a bull frog and a prostitute, both of which are despised in the African cultural context. This control also enables Mugabe to prevent any hint at positive press for the opposition.

The fate of journalists who do not toe the line, is imprisonment – at best. Here are three examples of how Mugabe deals with journalists:

1) 2007: Edward Chikombo, who was a part-time cameraman for the state broadcaster ZBC, was murdered after releasing pictures of Tsivangirai – after he was beaten within millimetres of death by Mugabe’s henchmen – to the international media.
2) 2007: Around the same time, Gift Phiri, a senior reporter for the exiled The Zimbabwean newspaper, was detained and tortured by police. He was beaten with a baseball bat, a metal handle and a police baton.
3) 1999: Mark Chavunduka, 34, editor of the independent Standard newspaper, and reporter Ray Choto, 37, were detained and tortured by military police after they reported the arrest of 23 soldiers over an alleged coup plot during December that year.

Foreign journalists are not welcomed and many have been detained and deported over the past ten years. During the recent elections, the presence of journalists from CNN, Sky etc., was expressly forbidden.

What was the South African Government’s response? SILENCE

Drinking the Life Blood of Free and Fair Elections
In the 2008 elections no observers were allowed from anywhere in the world except for those from the SADC. As was the case in the previous elections, observers were intimidated and beaten up – even though it neither as severe nor as well reported on this time round. SADC once again endorsed elections that the rest of the world declared rigged, free and fair – a travesty of democracy:

To give you an idea: More than 75,000 members of the security forces were allowed to vote before the election date without observers present and on election day, voters were (kindly) assisted by Mugabean police:

1) The same police, who for the past ten years, have put a stop to any kind of democratic activity by the opposition or civil society
2) The same police who were instrumental in “Operation Murambatsvina”, which destroyed the homes and lives of more than 700,000 Zimbabweans.
3) The same police beat opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to within an inch of his life at the end of March 2007.

What was the South African Government’s response? SILENCE

Drinking the Life Blood of Innocent People
The Green Bombers are being mobilized in Zimbabwe again and were spotted marching through the streets of Harare last Friday.

This murdering Zimbabwean squad was responsible for:
1) The massacres in Matabeleland during 2000;
2) House-to-house raids, harassing and beating opposition supporters during the run up to the previous elections
3) The arrest and torture of opposition activists during 2002, by using water torture, electric shocks and sadistic beatings. The reason for the onslaught was Mugabe losing a 2000 referendum on the constitution. In 2005, several activists were killed or disappeared, and white farmers were terrorized and chased from their land.
4) Shortly after the parliamentary elections of 2005, Mugabe launched Operation Murambatsvina, or “Clean Away the Filth,” which left about 700,000 people from urban opposition strongholds uprooted.
5) Then, last year, Tsvangirai and more than 100 activists were rounded up and beaten. This violence is typical of the violence that preceded the 2005 election: a brutal clean-up before the poll, followed by relative peace during the election – while African observers are present.

What was the South African Government’s response? SILENCE

Drinking the Life Blood of the Economy
You cannot call a country where the thieving ruler has his left hand in the cash register and his right hand in every cookie jar, an economy. The country has a 100,000% inflation, bare shelves, no fuel most of the time and an unemployment rate of 80%. The population is, by and large, starving. It is estimated that no less than 4,000,000 have sought refuge in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

What is the South African Government’s response? SILENCE

The Silencing of the Lambs
1) Nelson Mandela, our much loved and iconic former president, criticised leaders who hung on to power at the expense of their people (i.e. Mugabe). He was told by Mbeki to shut up.
2) Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a winner of the Nobel Peace Price, was maligned by the two M-s, Mbeki and Mugabe, when he dared to criticise the inhumanity of the goings-on in Zimbabwe.
3) When the gentle Father Paul Verryn gave refuge to hundreds of Zimbabweans, his Johannesburg church was raided by the South African Police who arrested refugee children as young as five months old.

So, what was the South African Government’s response? BE SILENT

To conclude
Zimbabwe, under the regime of Mugabe, is a study of villainy – evil in its purest form: There is a Dracula on the loose in Zimbabwe and no van Helsing to put the stake in its heart.