Two wire services are reporting that the Zimbabwean government may in August have received 50 metric tons of Chinese ammunition via Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Reuters says the experts, In their report on UN arms trade restrictions on Congo, where factional violence has raged for years, the group also said that arms it believed originated in China had been flown into Congo from Sudan.
The five-person group said that the ammunition sent to Zimbabwe must have first been imported into Congo but did not specifically say it had come from China.
The UN Security Council has imposed an arms embargo on militias operating in eastern Congo.
It permits arms supplies to the Congolese government army (FARDC) but requires that exporters first notify a UN sanctions committee.
The experts’ group said it was “aware of large amounts of ammunition arriving in eastern Congo without any notification by exporters to the sanctions committee” and that the FARDC might be exporting weapons and ammunition to other countries in the region.
“As the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not produce weapons or ammunition, this stock would have been imported to the Democratic Republic of the Congo without notification and then possibly exported in violation of the original end-user agreement with the original exporter,” it said.
It said that between August 20 and 22 of this year, a Boeing-707 aircraft carried out two return trips from Congo to the Zimbabwe capital Harare, transporting a total of 53 tons of ammunition destined for the Zimbabwean army.
“While this is not a violation of the arms embargo, it is an indication that the Democratic Republic of the Congo could become a transit point for weapons destined for other countries,” it said.
The UN experts also said that a Congolese Boeing-707 had carried out five flights between Khartoum and the Congolese city of Kisangani to deliver military supplies to the FARDC.
The group said it was “not aware of the required notification to the Security Council by the government of the Sudan” and had “received credible information that the weapons transported originated in China.”
The group had written to the Chinese government and was awaiting a reply, it said.
A controversy erupted in April over a shipment of Chinese arms for landlocked Zimbabwe that South African port workers refused to unload.
Bloomberg notes that attempts to dock at ports in neighboring countries were also unsuccessful.
There were conflicting reports over where the arms ended up.
Zimbabwe is not under UN sanctions.
Bloomberg adds that the team also found ammunition of Zimbabwean origin in the DRC`s Rumangabo district.
Congolese authorities captured a Bulgarian-made RPG-7 rocket grenade launcher and 7.62mm ammunition made by state-owned Zimbabwe Defense Industries Ltd. under its trade name “Cheetah.“
“The Zimbabwean authorities responded that the ammunition was made for hunting purposes and that Zimbabwe has not supplied arms to the Democratic Republic of Congo since its troops withdrew in 2002 and has not provided any military material to Uganda, Rwanda or Burundi, although those countries did capture some Zimbabwean equipment during the 1998-2003 war,“ according to the report.
Bloomberg says calls to Zimbabwe`s army commander Philip Sibanda at Harare`s King George VI barracks weren`t answered yesterday. Calls to Zimbabwe Defense Industries, which owns two factories in Harare, were also not answered.