Saturday, May 24, 2008

Zim govt denies receiving military hardware from China

Zim govt denies receiving military hardware from China
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

THE Zimbabwean government has denied receiving the controversial military hardware from China after the ship - An Yue Jiang - that was carrying the weapons was prevented from docking in South Africa. Defence minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi told reporters in Harare that the military consignment had never reached Zimbabwe.

Dr Sekeramayi’s comments come in the wake of recent reports in the South African media that the military hardware had reached Zimbabwe and that the weapons may have been off-loaded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Angola.

Dr Sekeramayi, who described the controversy that surrounded the matter as hullabaloo, said the ship did not dock and that the equipment had not been delivered.

He said Zimbabwe had been procuring equipment from China.
“The shipment is part of a routine procurement of equipment for our defence,” Dr Sekeramayi said.

And Chinese foreign ministry officials denied the claim stating that the ship was on its way back to China.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said the media reports were baseless and purely fictitious.

“The Chinese side has already said many times that the weapons sold to Zimbabwe will return on the An Yue Jiang. The ship is currently on its way back to China,” he said.
The An Yue Jiang was compelled to abort plans to deliver the weapons in South Africa last month after unionised workers refused to offload the military hardware.

Earlier during the launch of the education awareness campaign to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) International Day of Peacekeepers, Dr Sekeramayi applauded the UN for its efforts to bring peace to all corners of the world. He said without such efforts, the world would be an inhabitable place for mankind.
Dr Sekeramayi said the commemoration gives the UN and other stakeholders chance to reflect on the challenges that had been faced in the past peacekeeping efforts.

He said some of the peacekeeping mission’s duties include essential services such as supervision of elections, disarming of opposing factions and monitoring human rights practices.

Dr Sekeramayi said Zimbabwe’s participation in peacekeeping missions started in 1991 when it was requested by the UN to contribute troops to the peacekeeping mission in Angola, to restore peace and achieve national reconciliation between UNITA and MPLA. He said Zimbabwe also monitored the demobilisation process and the free movement of people and goods in Angola.

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