Viva La Resistance!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

This made my day:

South African port and truck workers are refusing to move weapons from a ship that docked in the country on its way to Zimbabwe, union officials said Friday.

The move could add to pressure on South African President Thabo Mbeki to take a harder line on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of withholding the results of an election his opposition says it won. Mbeki has argued that Mugabe is unlikely to respond to a confrontational approach.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions applauded the stance by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, and reiterated its calls for Zimbabwean electoral officials to release the results of the March 29 presidential elections.

“This vessel must return to China with the arms on board, as South Africa cannot be seen to be facilitating the flow of weapons into Zimbabwe at a time where there is a political dispute and a volatile situation,” the union congress said in a statement.


Mary Robinson, the former U.N. human rights chief, applauded the unions for taking a stand.

“How positive it is that ordinary dockers have refused to allow that boat to go further,” Robinson said during a conference in Senegal on governance in Africa. “They as individuals have taken the responsibility. Because they believe it’s not right.”

More of this, please. Everywhere.

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13 Responses to “Viva La Resistance!”

  1. #1 |  Terry | 

    Sadly it’s not going back to China, but to Angola,

  2. #2 |  Frank N Stein | 

    It’s interesting to see that China has learned well from the US with regard to selling weapons to scumbags. They are well on their way to being the next superpower. Let’s just hope they learn some good lessons too, like not trying to be the world’s cop.

  3. #3 |  kishnevi |
    “South Africa’s High Court ruled Friday the cargo could be offloaded in the Durban port, but it could not pass over South Africa roads to get to Zimbabwe, a country in crisis because of an election stalemate”

    However, the ship has left Durban and is heading to Angola to try to offload there..

  4. #4 |  livingpre911still | 

    I’ve followed african current events for years. Mbeki needs to have his visa revoked for one. However, what bothers me the most is that there is ZERO outrage from black journalist in the U.S. Jackson, Sharpton and the rest are too busy pointing fingers over unimportant, petty b.s. to raise awareness to the definition of real suppression which is what’s going on black on black between the Shonas and Matebele’s in Zimbabwe.

    Ignorance is bliss!

  5. #5 |  Bryan | 

    While I have no love for Mugabe, I assume you are joking Radley. What happens when a dock worker refuses to deliver genetically modified food or styrofoam cups because he believes they are not right? Are we trusting dock workers’ morals to determine who gets what?

  6. #6 |  Radley Balko | 

    Not joking at all. The fact that ill-motivated dock workers may someday in the future refuse to unload cargo for bad reasons is an odd reason to not cheer what these dockworkers did, isn’t it?

    I mean, under that reasoning, any act of civil disobedience should be condemned, because someday someone else might do the same thing for the wrong reasons.

    I’ll cheer when a jury nullifies an immoral law, for example, even though, yes, at some point, it’s possible that a jury may nullify for all the wrong reasons. I’m pretty happy the civil rights protesters of the 1960s blocked the entrances to segregated businesses, even though today there are animal rights protesters who try to use the same tactics to shut down medical research facilities.

    Just because a tactic can be used for the wrong reasons doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be gratified when it’s used for the right ones.

  7. #7 |  jim | 


    Why should anyone that is black in the US press or American civil rights leaders give a flying shit about what is happining in African countries? The vast majority of the group you are calling out have not had ties to any African nation in their family for at the very least 150 years most much longer than that. Next you will be calling out all the Scot Irish to rail against England.

  8. #8 |  nom de guerre | 

    latest rumor is that mugabe is importing PRC troops to keep his job, along with all those lovely weapons. IIRC, mugabe installed gun registration/confiscation laws a few years ago, preparing for this day. look around, you’ll see small reports of “armed chinese soldiers” patrolling with the zim army, helping them beat down opposition.

    china doesn’t bother with “being the world’s cop”. they tend more to the mafia model. “we’ll come help you, and then we own your ass.”

  9. #9 |  Bryan | 

    Isn’t it one thing to protest as a third party observer (outside a segregated lunch counter for instance) vs. protesting as a participant in the transaction and refusing to fulfill your role in the exchange. Its like the pharmacists that refuse to fill birth control prescriptions on moral grounds. I know your position is that pharmacists should be able not to fulfill scripts and the clients can choose to go where ever they want, but in this case, I doubt that the shipping company advertised that its dock workers may or may not deliver your goods — depending on whether they agreed morally with the purpose.

    I don’t think that this is like jury nullification in any way. Jury nullification is a recognized (or should be a recognized) potential outcome. Its part of the system. Having a dock worker Refuse to deliver the goods is not an outcome that most people expect is possible when they ship a package.

    I guess my heart is pretty happy that the guy did this, but my brain says I probably shouldn’t celebrate in order to be consistent.

  10. #10 |  primus | 

    Three points;
    1. The fact that the non-caucasian US citizens have no connection to Africa renders them ‘not black’. From this point forward they should not be allowed to use any terms like African-American, black, etc. I don’t call myself a Scottish, English, German Canadian, though that is my ancestry. The term Negro (pronounced properly) is not any more offensive than is ‘Caucasian’ or ‘Oriental’. There is only one ‘Race’–The Human Race.
    2. The port workers are in harmony with their government on this one, so they are actually supporting, not undermining the legitimate authority in their own country.
    3. If they had instead unloaded then assisted to destroy the arms, they would have accomplished much more. Now, the boat goes somewhere else where the people and government are not so noble-minded, and the dirty deed is done anyway.

  11. #11 |  Nell | 

    The port workers are in harmony with their government on this one, so they are actually supporting, not undermining the legitimate authority in their own country.

    No, they are not in harmony. The executive branch of the government was perfectly willing to see the cargo unloaded at the port of Durban, and Pres. Mbeki has maintained a very pro-Mugabe position for years. Fortunately, he’s on the way out. Mbeki’s position does not reflect the view of the majority of the people of South Africa, nor even of his party.

    The dock workers’ union reached this position as a union and are not about to do anything similar for smaller issues. They identify strongly with the situation of Zimbabweans, for obvious reasons.

    South Africa is full of refugees from Zimbabwe — people who supported the SA liberation struggle, and who are now facing a dictatorship that’s trying to thwart by means of repression their best chance in many years to bring change by peaceful, electoral means.

  12. #12 |  Nell | 

    If they had instead unloaded then assisted to destroy the arms, they would have accomplished much more.

    And here I thought property rights were a fundamental issue for libertarians…

  13. #13 |  walking turtle | 

    One does occasionally ask ones’ self where the balance point between property rights and the preservation of life on the generally accepted zero-bloodshed model might be found. Can/would anyone address that in passing here, w/o going horridly o/t?