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South African Party Leader Says Zimbabwe Arms Embargo Not Necessary

Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa's ruling party, says the situation in Zimbabwe has not reached the stage where an international arms embargo is necessary. This contradicts the British prime minister's call for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe. Tendai Maphosa attended Zuma's press conference in London and filed this report for VOA.

African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma, the man who could be South Africa's next president, met Wednesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said the issue of an arms embargo came up during their meeting.

"We debated the issue, I do not think we have reached the stage of arms embargo in Zimbabwe," he said. "We do not know of any order of anything that Zimbabwe is making in terms of arms. I think it is going too far and really it could just complicate the situation, which needs to be handled with great care."

But Zuma said the Durban dockworkers who refused to offload the Chinese ship bearing arms for Zimbabwe had acted correctly.

The ship was forced to abandon plans to offload its cargo in the South African port after activists won a court case that prevented the transportation of the arms to the border with landlocked Zimbabwe.

Zuma also said the refusal to allow the ship into a Mozambican port and the call by the chairman of the Southern African Development Community that the ship should not be allowed to dock in any African port was an appropriate response. The ship is reportedly on its way back to China with its cargo.

He also reiterated the withholding of Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential election results is unacceptable, saying that the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission is sabotaging its own work by the delay. Zuma said he has not been given a good reason why the election results are being withheld.

The South African politician also addressed the issue of the post-election violence against supporters of the opposition by the police, the army, war veterans and supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

"We have condemned that, it cannot be allowed, it is wrong absolutely out of order and when we go back home the ANC will certainly discuss the matter and issue a well considered statement," he said.

Zuma who has recently been more outspoken regarding the Zimbabwean crisis, supported South African President Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy. He said taking a tougher stance against Zimbabwe would be counter-productive and South Africa would continue to engage with the Zimbabwean government and the opposition.