Last week, there was a lot of publicity about a shipment of arms from China destined to be delivered to Zimbabwe being stopped when local trade unionists refused to offload the shipment in Durban.

Mozambique also refused to offload the shipment, and China, after a lot of international pressure, seemed to agree that the arms would be returned to the country of origin. But the ship had cement to be delivered in Angola, so the ship proceeded to Angola

The government of Angola insisted that only their own supplies would be offloaded there.

But then Mugabe, with the help of Malawi and the Angolan government, pulled a fast one.

On April 25th, the Angolan press agency reported that Mugabe sent the Zimbabwean minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as a special envoy to Angola.

On Saturday, April 26, the Chinese ship was given permission to land in Luanda, Angola, but only to unload “merchandise destined for Angola.”  The news story cited a government statement that  “The weaponry that the ship brings destined for Zimbabwe is not authorised to be unloaded on national territory.”

A follow up report on May 6th  by Reuters claims only the cement was offloaded in Luanda, and that the International Trade Unionists had monitored the situation to prevent the arms from being offloaded.

Yet today, SWRadioAfrica reports that government officials now claim the arms are in Zimbabwe:

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga on Sunday claimed that the controversial shipment of arms from China, initially blocked by South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia, was now in Zimbabwe. Responding to criticism of the shipment during a panel discussion on Iranian sponsored ‘Press TV’ Matonga is said to have derisively retorted, ‘in any case that shipment is already in Zimbabwe.’….

Angola officially declined to authorise the offloading of the Zimbabwean arms shipment, but no one knows if they kept their word..

Malawi’s Nyasa Times newspaper added to the speculation by claiming intelligence agents from Malawi had travelled to Angola to help clear the shipment on behalf of the Zimbabwean regime…

An editorial in the Nyasa Times (Malawi) protests the involvement of their country in the slight of hand that allowed the arms to be offloaded:

Malawi’s involvement in the Zimbabwe crisis has become highly questionable, especially with the prospect of Malawi clearing the Chinese arms cargo from Angola. Malawi’s suspicious dealings with Zimbabwe goes back to 2005, when there was an international outcry over claims that the country was flouting western sanctions in supplying the Zimbabwe police force with tear gas. The tear gas was linked to the death of 11 people in a single incident in Zimbabwe. In the event of the second round, there is great fear that the police, army and militias will use weapons to intimidate and terrorise the electorate to facilitate Mugabe’s victory.

Right now, it is fairly clear that despite intimidation Mugabe has lost the election.

He continues to delay the official count, and is openly intimidating the election commission and the opposition before the “official” count is released.

It is probably too late to claim victory, but Mugabe’s strategy is to claim that Tsvangirai has not won a majority, and a revote is needed. In the meanwhile, Mugabe’s tughs are terrorizing the population.

With typical Zimbabwean irony, the terror campaign has been labled “Operation Where You Put Your X” because the plan is to intimidate the population so that they vote “correctly” in the run off voting.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes about human rights problems in Zimbabwe at Makaipa blog.

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