Spurned ship a sign of hope for Africa

2008-05-30 00:00

The action by local and regional civil groups, trade unions and political parties that stopped the Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, from off-loading 77 tons of weapons destined for volatile Zimbabwe, may yet prove to be one of the most decisive blows for democracy in southern Africa. For once, the will of ordinary people for more meaningful democracy on the continent has triumphed over Africa’s leaders’ often instinctively dictatorial tendencies.

South African Defence Secretary January Masilela issued the An Yue Jiang with a permit to transport the deadly cargo, saying there was no international arms embargo against Zimbabwe. Yet, South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Act makes it very clear that the country should not sell or transfer arms to governments “that violate or suppress human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

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