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SA cannot interfere with China-Zim shipment

by Bathandwa Mbola
on 19 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

South Africa is not in the position to interfere with a shipment of weapons reportedly from China en-route to Zimbabwe which is currently docked at the Port of Durban, says Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Aziz Pahad.

"We are not able to determine as Foreign Affairs as to what goods are shipped from one country to another," he said, adding that clarity should be asked from relevant stakeholders.

"It is a matter that needs to be taken up by relevant stakeholders like the South African Revenue Service, National Ports Authority, International Ship and Ports Security," he told reporters at the Union Buildings on Thursday.

Mr Pahad further said South Africa was not aware of the nature of export and import relations between Zimbabwe and China.

According to media reports the Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, was carrying three million rounds of ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles and small arms, 3500 mortars and mortar tubes as well as 1500 rocket propelled grenades.

The ship which is currently docked at the Durban harbour is reported to have entered the port without clearance and is currently docked at the outer anchorage.

Besides the transport permit issued by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), a clearance permit from the explosives department of the police is still needed before the shipment can be released.

The arms shipment has sparked a political outcry with parties calling on the government to block the consignment allegedly bound for Zimbabwe's army.

Earlier, Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko echoed the same sentiments as Deputy Minister Pahad.

"We are not in a position to act unilaterally and interfere in a trade deal between two countries," he told reporters during a post Cabinet briefing.

All South African authorities could do was to make sure that all proper administrative processes were followed, he said, adding that South Africa is not at all involved in the arrangement as it was a matter between the two countries.

It would be possible, but very difficult for South Africa to start intervening and saying that we will not allow the shipment through, Mr Maseko said. - BuaNews

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