Cartoons – Zapiro – Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source

Cartoons – Zapiro – Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source.

Mugabe in Singapore hospital Zapiro

Zapiro's take on Mugabe's illness

Funny as always…and true 😀

 

The missing 368,628 tonnes oil South Africa imported from Iran

There were some raised eyebrows recently when customs figures revealed that South Africa was still importing oil (417,000 during February) from Iran in spite of sanctions against that country.

Sasol took responsibility for some 12,000 barrels per day during January. Engen South Africa, which is owned by Petronas Malaysia, did not.

Reuters reported that Engen South Africa claimed that the company had halted oil imports from Iran. When exactly this happened, is unclear. They did not want to comment. Petronas indicated that their Engen unit stopped imports in March of last year. Engen, while not contradicting the statement, also did not confirm it. The messages are mixed.

I have to say this: the numbers don’t tally up. Either somebody is telling half-truths or somebody (and I suspect it could be more than a single somebody) is not owning up! Let’s calculate:

Of the 417,000 tonnes of oil imported from Iran, how much

South Africa Iran - Oil still important.

Other than Sasol, nobody is owning up for the large amount of oil imported by South Africa from Iran.

did Sasol buy?

Sasol said they imported only 12,000 barrels per day, right? A barrel weighs 139kg, or 0.139 tonnes. February had 29 days and I assume that their ‘per day’ includes weekends, high days and holidays. So the sum would be:

Number of barrels x tonnes x days = total monthly import.

12,000 x 0.139 x 29 = 48,372 tonnes.

So WHO imported the remaining 368,628 tonnes?

That is a whole lot of oil, and it sure as heck got delivered somewhere!

  • Petronas said it was not them. Engen does not say anything. I am not sure I believe them. My suspicion is that they are looking at stopping imports, but haven’t made a final decision .
  • Sasol could be importing more than they claim but, even if they did, it would not be anywhere near the missing 368,628 tonnes!
  • Chevron I believe is innocent. They are US-owned and won’t violate US sanctions. The repercussions would be too severe.
  • There seems to be confirmation that BP is not the culprit either.
  • Shell..well now, Shell is a bit of a dark horse. They have not breathed a word. In fact, they refuse to comment. No answer is an answer too.

A lack of political will

I believe there is a lack of political will to support the US and EU sanctions against Iran. South Africa is notoriously bad at taking a stand. They usually end up dancing around issues. Think of Zimbabwe, Lybia etc. There really is no political pressure from our government on Engen, Shell, Sasol and whoeverelse. Things might change during May this year when Energy Minister Dipuo Peters is set to finally respond to the US in terms of implementing sanctions against Iran. There is a good chance she won’t. As I explained in my previous blog , South Africa and Iran are bedfellows in at least two joint ventures and have been supplying arms to Teheran in spite of the embargo on weapons – an embargo South Africa had agreed to.

In the mean time, this blogger is waiting for the March customs figures to be released. Hopefully the amount of oil imported by South Africa from Iran, will be a round zero.

Also read:

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=168894

UPDATE 1-Petronas S.Africa unit Engen ends Iran crude imports | Reuters.

Stop 2010 World Cup Animal Sacrifice More than Just Another Petition

Note: For those who have not been following the story, please see: https://thewordwright.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/2010-soccer-world-cup-animal-sacrifice-planned/

A week ago, I felt as though mine would be the only voice screaming to FIFA and the South African 2010 Soccer World Cup Local Organising Committee to disallow the animal sacrifices planned by the so-called traditional leaders here in honour of the event. Minutes within launching the petition (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-2010-World-Cup-Animal-Sacrifice) on the Care2 network though, it became apparent that I was wrong – other voices were joining mine from right across the world.

The chorus grew rapidly and is but a few voices short of the 2,000 signatory milestone.  Judging by the overwhelming public response, 10,000 signatures are within reach! A month and a day remains before the self-imposed deadline for submitting the Stop South Africa from Sacrificing Animals at 2010 Soccer World Cup petition to the FIFA Executive Committee.

Driving towards success in the mean time ….

To improve our chances for success in stopping South Africa from sacrificing animals for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, we have to manage our drive as a carefully orchestrated CAMPAIGN. Unless we do that, we will probably be brushed off and ignored.

We figured that a really good target would be each and every one of the 2010 World Cup Sponsors and Partners – both locally and abroad.

The 2010 World Cup Sponsors are:

  • Budweiser
  • Continental
  • MTN
  • McDonalds
  • Satyam
  • Castrol

The FIFA Partners are:

  • Adidas
  • Coca Cola
  • Sony
  • Hyandai
  • Visa
  • Emirates

The FIFA South Africa Partners are:

  • BP
  • Neoafrica
  • Telkom
  • FNB
  • Prasa

Next week I will be sending an email to the Board of each of these sponsors and partners. In brief the email will contain:

  • a link to the Reuters article which broke the news of the impending sacrifices -http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLN24914120091023, and
  • a link to the Stop 2010 World Cup Animal Sacrifice petition on the Care2 network

We will also be asking them, as sponsors / partners of FIFA and the 2010 Soccer World Cup, whether they agree with the proposed sacrifices of animals to honour the event. Naturally I will remind them that should the sacrifices happen, they will by virtue of their presence at the 2010 World Cup, be viewed as in support of this abhorrent practice.

Their responses will be duly noted both here and on the Care2 Network Site.

Once the petition is submitted …

Do we sit an wait for a response, hoping that someone somewhere in the great rambling FIFA organisation will send us some sort of an acknowledgement or perhaps even go to the trouble of discussing the matter with their South African ‘leg’?

This kind of tack would be downright naive.

The high level plan of action is thus, that over and above submitting the most crucial document in the campaign (namely the petition) to the FIFA Executive Committee, we will be sending copies of this petition to the FIFA CEO, the Chairman of the South African 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, and the 2010 World Cup Sponsors and Partners.

To ensure that we prevent the ‘out of sight out of mind’ trap, we will be asking supporters of the petition (those that are prepared to remain involved for a while longer) to send a pre-formulated email message to all the above organisations on a daily basis. Email addresses will be supplied.

Right now…

Securing as many signatures as possible is of paramount importance. If you have not done so yet, please sign and ask others to do the same. The petition is located at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-2010-World-Cup-Animal-Sacrifice.

Thank you 🙂

Shock. Limited Animal Sacrifices took place at 2010 World Cup Stadium sod turning ceremonies

HUH?  LIMITED? When I caught sight of an IOL article (http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20091028124741514C399059) this morning that was originally released by the Cape Argus on October 28, that was my first though…confusion growing with each subsequent paragraph I read.

The article reported on South Africa’s 2010 Soccer World Cup Animal Slaughter Plan and the sacrifices that were already performed (between 2005 and 2007, I assume) during various sod turning ceremonies. Ostensibly the sacrifices were made to bless (or is that Bless in Blood) the construction of the sites where new stadiums for the 2010 Soccer World Cup were to be erected.

Naturally those that approved these sod turning ceremony slaughters are quick to defend their decisions. For instance: Pieter Cronje, who is spokesman for the City of Cape Town, (one of the cities where the 2010 Soccer World Cup will be played) told the Cape Argus that:

“There was a blessing and limited sacrifice ceremony on the stadium site before the start of construction. This was done under the appropriate supervision of law enforcement and city health officials. There was also an inter-denominational blessing at the sod-turning ceremony for the stadium by the premier and mayor at the time”

What a load of RUBBISH. Here is my take ….

ONE

Considering that they approved BLESS in BLOOD once before, there is no reason for them not to approve the proposed 2010 Soccer World Cup animal slaughter. In fact, they created a precedent!

TWO

LIMITED sacrifice? I am sorry, but I do not understand that term.  Does LIMITED  mean play-play sacrifice? Nope, not likely. Or does it mean that only a half a cow was sacrificed? Nope, not doable. Or does it mean that a smaller animal – some poor hapless goat, or lamb or chicken – was gleefully sent into the hereafter in order to BLESS in BLOOD a 2010 Soccer World Cup venue and a sport where blood really has no role to play? Or does limited mean that the animal is kinda dead or kinda alive after having been LIMITED sacrificed? I have no idea. Do you?

THREE

They try to make it sound all controlled and harmless by being quick to point out that the Bless in Blood sacrifices at the construction sites of the 2010 Soccer World Cup sod turning ceremonies were done “under the appropriate supervision of law enforcement and city health officials“. This includes South Africa’s N SPCA by the way.

Oh, that is just great. Sarcasm intended.

So, the SPCA supervises the killing of innocent, healthy animals instead of preventing this cruelty. (When last I checked, the role of an animal cruelty prevention agency was Preventing Cruelty. That is what the P and C in SPCA are meant to stand for. ) But then, in South Africa SPCA may be the abbreviation for Society for the Perpetuation of Cultural Animal killings. Anything is possible. If you don’t believe me, have a look at their media statement in which they make it abundantly clear that they WILL be supporting the proposed BLESS in BLOOD sacrifices to inaugurate each of the 10 FIFA Soccer World Cup Stadiums.

“The N SPCA position is respectful and supportive towards cultural and traditional practices,” said the statement. “Welfare standards are paramount and these include issues such as transportation of animals, holding facilities, the manner of handling, plus the method of slaughter. The N SPCA wishes to give input on this issue to all relevant parties, including to the traditional leaders who made the announcement on this issue.”

Their words, not mine. All I can say is SHAME on you N SPCA. My monthly contributions will now be made to Wet Nose instead!

FOUR

Naturally Cronje was also quick to add that there was also an inter-denominational blessing at the City of Capetown sod-turning ceremony (presided over by both the premier and the mayor, just by the way). Oh, how nice…..!

Double HUH? Am I missing something?

Why were the cultural killers not included under INTERDENOMINATIONAL blanket? Is that not what interdemoninational implies? Or are we dealing with yet another populist move on the part of the powers that be, pandering to a massive portion (80%) of the South African population considered to be above everything – even above interdenominational? (Bear in mind that these animal slaughtering people are mostly practicing Christians, so it is not a case of them belonging to some strange ancient religion. This makes what they are doing an insult to Christians all over the world.)

Bet you those who fell within the ambit of interdenominational did not kill to bless the 2010 Soccer World Cup stadiums though. And perhaps that is why these so-called ‘traditional’ African Style guys and gals needed and wanted to be in a class of their own. And they ARE. A real killer crowd.

LET US STOP THIS

Please sign the petition! And ask as many people as you possibly can to sign and spread the word.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-2010-World-Cup-Animal-Sacrifice

The petition IS doing well. 1,313 signatures within four-and-a-half days. We need many, many more though! The petition will be handed to the FIFA Executive Committee and the South African 2010 World Cup Organising Committee at the end of November. Your contribution is and would be HIGHLY appreciated! Thank you 🙂

The SPCA, South African Law, the 2010 World Cup and the Planned Sacrifice of Animals

When President Jacob Zuma won the South African Presidential elections, he too was

Blessed

in

BLOOD

Just in case you have not heard the story, yet:

South African ‘traditional leaders’ intend performing ritual animal slaughters in order to bless the Soccer Football Stadiums to be used during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Zolani Mkiva, chairman of the Makhonya Royal Trust, said the tournament has to to be blessed in true “African style” and that they are going to slaughter cows in sacrifice at each of the 10 stadiums to be used for the event.

Any reasonable person will immediately think: Surely this can be prevented. After all, South Africa does have Animal Protection Laws and an N SPCA. You are right if that is your response – on the latter part of your thought anyway. BUT, as I am about to explain, NOT  on the former part. Here is why.

 

The SPCA

When Reuters broke the news, the N SPCA of South Africa made it clear that they will not prevent or oppose the animal slaughter / sacrifice planned in honour of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In a very politically correct media statement, they indicated that they are

“respectful and supportive towards cultural and traditional practices”

and that

“the N SPCA stresses that its role will not be to preach or dictate but to act in a welfare liaison capacity”

A cop-out if ever I heard one!

The N SPCA has a history of allowing these kinds of things to go ahead. For instance, when Jacob Zuma became president of South Africa earlier this year, they endorsed (YES, endorsed) the slaughter / sacrifice of 25 Cows to bless Jacob Zuma’s newly acquired President-ship. (See http://iluvsa.blogspot.com/2009/06/25-cows-to-die-for-zuma.html and http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1480885.php/Zuma_party_rolls_on_25_cows_face_the_chop_for_village_feast) Bear in mind that these slaughters will have been done in the TRUE AFRICAN way….

Don’t expect any support against the 2010 Soccer World Cup animal slaughter / sacrifice from the N SPCA

 

South African Law

Sure! South Africa DOES have laws governing the treatment of animals – about 40 of them – and that does not include the many bylaws passed governing our behaviour and conduct towards animals. We also have a Consitution. A Consitution that allows religious freedom INCLUDING, in this instance, slaughtering animals for religious purposes and, by the looks of it, to BLESS the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The law is extremely vague as the humane-ness of such killings, saying that it should be done in – and I quote:

” in a humane way as is reasonable within the particular religious or cultural values of the person effecting the slaughter and subject to the requirements of the SPCA.”
Killing tethered – their legs are bound together and they are flipped on their sides – bulls with bare hands (see yesterday’s blog: https://thewordwright.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/2010-soccer-world-cup-animal-slaughter-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg/) and slitting (although HACKING would be a better description) fully conscious cows’ throats, leaving them to slowly bleed to death (see https://thewordwright.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/2010-soccer-world-cup-animal-sacrifice-planned/) are perfectly REASONABLE and ACCEPTABLE religious and cultural values and not contrary to the social standards of the bulk of the population in South Africa.
Don’t expect any  protection against the 2010 Soccer World Cup animal slaughter / sacrifice under South African Law

 

What now?

 

Stopping the proposed, torturous deaths of the animals intended for sacrifice in honour of the 2010 Soccer World Cup is going to be NO easy matter! I started a petition two days ago to try and rally as much support as I can from people across the world. Please sign this petition if you disagree with animal sacrifice: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-2010-World-Cup-Animal-Sacrifice.
So far we have 327 signatures. The target is 50,000. Your support in terms of creating awareness among friends, colleagues etc will go a long way towards achieving the targeted number! The petition will be submitted to the FIFA Executive Committee and 2010 Soccer World Cup Organising Committee of South Africa. I am also busy rallying support from Animal Rights Organisations across the world and approaching the media to solicit additional support. I am of the conviction that if sufficient pressure can be brought to bear, the animal sacrifice planned by South Africa to celebrate and bless the 2010 Soccer World Cup can and will be stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010 Soccer World Cup Animal Slaughter – Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Happy slaughter ritual participants

After writing the blog (https://thewordwright.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/2010-soccer-world-cup-animal-sacrifice-planned/) yesterday on the planned ritual slaying of cows by South Africa in lieu of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, a few things kept lingering in my mind. So, I decided to put them in writing today:

One: The bloodthirsty throat slitting – or rather throat hacking – of sacrificial cows are not the worst ceremonies these animals are subjected to in this country. There are some rituals where a bull would be killed with bare hands (obviously the poor animal would be tied down). This involves gouging out his eyes, tongue, testicles and tearing his throat open. As you can imagine the latter takes a while to achieve. Cattle hide is rather tough. And YES. These heinous acts are all perpetrated to celebrate spirituality! ???????

Two: The SPCA is suddenly being referred to as if they could be the potential saviours of cows while, in real every day South African life, they – in a s far as I know – NEVER get involved with any of the so-called ‘cultural’ animal killings. On the one hand, it simply would not be politically correct. (And I am saying the latter with a good measure of sarcasm.) On the other hand, and in all fairness, it could also be very dangerous for the inspectors to try this. Chances are good that the gathering could turn on them – and this could end up in grievous bodily harm or even death. Africa is not for the fainthearted. (No, I am not exaggerating – read the SA newspapers)

Three: The number of  cows earmarked for death by suffering to celebrate the 2010 Soccer World Cup is, compared to the number of cow (and bull and goat and chicken) sacrifices in South Africa,  like a single cup of water out of a great big seething cesspool of a dam.  When you take all of Africa into account, the dam becomes a polluted ocean.

The petition (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-2010-World-Cup-Animal-Sacrifice) I launched on Saturday night (GMT+2) in an attempt to stop the ritual killing of cows at each of the ten stadiums to be used for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup is standing at 195 signatories at the time of this writing. We are still 49,805 signatures away from our target.

The petition will be submitted to the FIFA Executive committee and the South African 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee.  I believe that if we have enough support, if the media gives the matter sufficient attention and if animal rights organisations internationally endorse the campaign against the planned 2010 World Cup Animal Sacrifice Rituals, it can be stopped.

For now it is work in progress.

The An Yue Jiang sets sail from Luanda, Angola

It is no small victory for those in Zimbabwe and in the rest of the world who have been watching the weapon bearing An Yue Jiang with bated breath. It is also no small victory for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), whose members – in a display of solidarity – refused to unload the deadly arms shipment from China, both in Angola and South Africa. It is suspected that the weapons ordered by the Mugabe regime, were intended to support his re-election during the presidential runoff campaign.

The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and the ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation), who played an active role in preventing the weapons from reaching Zimbabwe from the time that Noseweek broke the story some three weeks ago, remained in close touch with the Port Workers Union in Angola, who monitored all movements to and from the An Yue Jiang since it docked in Luanda. The Port Workers Union verified that only construction materials (cement etc.) destined for Angola were offloaded from the An Yue Jiang.

In their press statement, the International Taekwon-Do Federation told reporters that, under the watchful eye of Angolan Police, the An Yue Jiang refuelled, took on some supplies and set sail, with its controversial arms cargo still on board: destination China.

The International Taekwon-Do Federation also told the media that they will keep a watch on the movements of the ship and provide an update on its whereabouts later today.

Zimbabwe: The Runoff Election Farce

It is useless saying that the presidential runoff in Zimbabwe must be or should be free and fair because the truth of the matter is that it simply won’t be. If free encapsulates the human right of choosing freely, without blatant or latent threats of retaliation, and if fair comprises of all things equal and honest, then running a credible election in Zimbabwe is as credible as China’s denial of harming Tibetans (or baby girls for that matter).

Information from the beautiful country of Zimbabwe is scarce and getting scarcer by the day. Only isolated reports manage to find their way to those of us who live in the rest of the world – and then only in drips and drabs. Video footage has all but disappeared as those found recording anything that could be even remotely incriminating are cast into jails on one or another trumped up charge. This is a best case scenario. Some are poorly treated; others are tortured, while others still are killed.
Such is the transparency of the tyrant.

If commentators, spectators and journalists are too scared to venture into the hell hole of current day on-the-spot Zimbabwe politics, how can we expect the average Zimbabwean to play Zimbabwean Roulette with the Mugabe gun? The average Zimbabwean has parents, a husband or wife, children, grandchildren and friends. And, the average Zimbabwean knows that there is an un-penned law of oppression that states that your sins against Mugabe will visit you and those who are near and dear to you. In fact, it may even visit those who simply live near to you regardless of their political persuasions.

Such is the wrath of the tyrant.

Looking forward to runoff day, there will be relative peace. But looking towards the run-up towards runoff day, there won’t: Villagers will be tortured into submission using the techniques learnt from Mugabe’s Chinese handlers. In the sky smoke will rise from the homes and business burnt as a grim warning to those who dare to vote differently. The blood from wounds caused by Chinese supplied arms is set to flow across the Zimbabwean soil. And then, when all have been cowed, maimed, incarcerated and killed, runoff day will dawn quietly. Not with the quiet associated with contentment, but with the eerie quiet associated with death.
Such is the rule of the tyrant.

Is there hope?

Unless UN peacekeeping forces are deployed now and unless UN observers are present on the day and unless these UN observers guard the ballot until the results are released…the answer is…

!NO!

The Mark of the Dragon: China in Zimbabwe…and Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi

There remains an uneasiness among those of us who have remained as close as is humanly possible to the movement of the An Yue Jiang with its shipment of weapons from China to Zimbabwe. Uneasiness, that stems from the extent of Chinese involvement in the SADC countries, and the fact that most of these countries are unofficially ‘Chinese Colonies’.

Methinks we have lost the plot. We keep looking to the African countries surrounding Zimbabwe for a solution. We look at Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Malawi to stop the weapons, mostly because these countries have proclaimed themselves as democratic states and have said that they are eager for peace in the region. But in Africa, saying and doing are two very different things and everybody seems to forget that these very countries are deeply – perhaps even too deeply – involved with the arms shipment’s country of origin to be in a position to do anything except obey the will of their master.

We chide China for their irresponsibility. A small rap over the knuckles, no more. And China, with an eye on the upcoming Olympics, plays the role of the reprimanded gracefully – withdrawing the errant ship, or at least pretends to do so.

They are smiling to themselves, I am sure. Not in embarrassment, but in glee. The West is wrong – again.

China: Africa’s New Partner
You see, China was busy with other things while the rest of the world was busying them with the Middle East and with Eastern Europe. China found somebody to play their own brand of Monopoly with: Africa. And true war masters that they are, the Chinese had their strategy in place long before joining the game. In true Sun Tzu style, they chose each of their battlegrounds with care and won each piece of additional territory without a single shot being fired.

The countries they targeted were easy marks. They were all dead broke, run by kleptocrats (to varying degrees) and heavily indebted to the IMF. The terms imposed by the IMF did not necessarily suit their peculiar brands of democracy. And, considering from whence the IMF funding comes, the terms of these loans have instilled growing resentment towards the haves of the ‘imperialistic’ West.

Hence, when the Chinese arrived on their white dragons, bearing millions upon millions of Dollars in gifts, loans and advances, (initially no strings attached) they were received like long lost brothers – liberators from their imaginary foe, the West. But money, like any other opiate, could be addictive – and, as has been proven time and again, the addicted ends up becoming the lackey of the supplier. In Africa, the extent of the submission depends on the extent of the addiction.

Money is Sun Tzu’s golden thread in this instance: the thing that unites the senseless gluttony of these African leaders and the Chinese hunger for territory, commodities and power.

Want to know why I am uneasy about Angola? Read on.

China: The Angolan Puppeteer
trenched itself in Angola. The CSIS, in their recent report on the Angola China relations, tried to provide a (too) balanced view of the involvement of the Chinese in this country, with China’s involvement made out to be benevolence in exchange for crude oil. Now, I would call China many things, but benevolent isn’t one of these. They have been putting money into Angola, and they want something in return. Full stop. There is no such thing as free Chop Suey.

In addition to oil (Angola is the largest supplier of crude to China – 8.48 million metric tons in the first three months of this year alone), there are diamonds. And, in addition to diamonds there is employment for Chinese nationals. In a country that sports a ginormous unemployment figure, the number of Chinese nationals employed in Angola has increased from 192 in 2004 to 22,043 in 2007. 22,043 jobs that could have moved Angolan nationals from below the breadline to above it – jobs that are filled by people who cannot string two words in Portuguese together, and nearly as little in English. Get the picture?

Vast sums of money have been made available to Angola by the Chinese. Very little has filtered down towards improving conditions for the person on the street. Scholarships to China were donated to ‘enhance Angolan skills’. These only served to enhance the family members of parliamentarians’ skills.

The desire for arms and weapons (Chinese supplied of course) supersede the need of the populace for food. The need to reconstruct the railway between Benguela and Luanda (with Chinese money for Chinese ends) is greater than the need of the population for shelter, basic healthcare and education.

The Dos Santos regime is nominally democratic and but a small margin away from being a one party state. In fact, he could be a Mugabe understudy.

And China? Well, China has proven time and again that they do not particularly care about the fabric of a country’s leadership. The more corrupt the easier it is for them to get around. And, as usual they have no qualms about propping up a dictator as long as he is willing to dance under the big red puppeteer’s skilful hands.

In Closing

So, will Eduardo dos Santos really only allow construction material to be off-loaded? If construction material is indeed part of the cargo carried by the An Yue Jiang…

With things being as they are – and I do hope I am wrong – I would be pleasantly surprised if the alleged construction material does not pan out to be destruction material in the end.

The An Yue Jiang: Lloyds MIU Responds

Note: For background, refer to my blogs on the Zimbabwe China Arms Deal. The An Yue Jiang, which is carrying weapons from China that are destined for Zimbabwe, and that is thought to be heading to Angola, featured prominently in the last few blogs.

The An Yue Jiang, that was added to the Lloyds list on the 20th of April, disappeared off the casualties list of Lloyds MIU this morning. The last entry on the five-ship free portion of the site that remained after the An Yue Jiang was moved or removed, was a vessel that was reported as a casualty on the 19th of April 2008 – 1 day before the An Yue Jiang.

I requested access to Lloyds MIU by using an online form, but was denied on the grounds that Lloyds “only grant trial access to companies with a legitimate business need“. I suppose being a writer makes me less legitimate than most :).

The correspondence
Then, on my WordPress Blog’s Comments, up popped a message from Lloyds themselves. Mark Hankey, their representative, had the following to say:

“We never stated that the vessel sank.

We called it a casualty as it failed to discharge its cargo in the manner it expected. This is normal practice for us as we supply a lot of data to the insurance market and this type of information is of use to them.

We currently have no knowledge of the vessel being refuelled/bunkered or being detained by any navy.”

I then emailed Mr. Hankey, asking him the following:

“Thank you very much for the update you provided to my blog. I would like to publish it, but before I do please can you help me understand:

1. You added it to the list as a casualty because it did not dispose of its cargo as expected. Correct?

2. Could you please let me know why it was taken off the casualty list? Did it dispose of its cargo? Or are there are criteria used?

3. I just want to point out that we never stated that it sank. We merely speculated that the vessel may have run out of fuel as it was not allowed to take in fuel at Durban (it was anchored some 12km outside the port).”

In return, I received the following response from Mr. Hankey (Mr. Hankey’s reponse is in red):

“1. You added it to the list as a casualty because it did not dispose of its cargo as expected. Correct? – correct

2. Could you please let me know why it was taken off the casualty list? Did it dispose of its cargo? Or are there are criteria used? – it’s still there, but due to the timing it has been superseded by more recent casualties on the free part of the database
3. I just want to point out that we never stated that it sank. We merely speculated that the vessel may have run out of fuel as it was not allowed to take in fuel at Durban (it was anchored some 12km outside the port). – cool. Sorry for the misunderstanding. ”

The quandary
I am very grateful that Lloyds took the time to point out that the ship is indeed still on the casualties list. Now there remains but one issue – one that I find hard to get to grips with:

From the outset, I want to make it clear that I am in no position to personally verify whether the ship is still on the list or not because I could not get access to the database, so I am giving Lloyds the benefit of the doubt in this respect. There is no reason not to.

The only things that still bug me (and I regret not having taken thorough notes this morning) are:
(1) that the An Yue Jiang was superseded before an older casualty (the 19th of April casualty) was superseded, and
(2) that it took some 24 hours (perhaps longer) for Lloyds to list the ship after it failed to discharge is cargo in an expected manner.

These are questions I hope to clarify with Mr. Hankey during subsequent correspondence, provided that he will humour more questions from me.

The low-down
So, considering Lloyds’ feedback:

We should not necessarily assume that the vessel has run out of fuel.
We should not necessarily assume that it stopped its slow fuel-saving voyage to Luanda.
We should not necessarily assume that the vessel is headed towards Luanda.
We should not necessarily assume that it has been refuelled.
We should not assume that the ship still carries cargo, and we should not assume that it does.
Finally we should also not assume that the ship has been intercepted by any navy or that it is being led back towards any port – naval or commercial.

But that is not all…

Just where is the An Yue Jiang? The Navy won’t tell and Lloyds cannot tell.
Why is the route suddenly such a secret?
Is the cargo still on board? No response on that one either.
And, why all the attention…even my couple of newbie, basic, itty-bitty blogs are being flooded. And, some of the visitors appear not to be popping by out of curiosity only.

Right now there are simply too many questions and not a single answer to show for it.

PS. Original comment published on my WordPress Blog. You can follow the link from here.