Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More on Avient Air

I reported yesterday that Chinese-made arms had reached Zimbabwe, allegedly with the help of a UK registered company, Avient Limited. The original source for this story, the Mozambique online news site Canal de Moçambique, is sticking to its guns with a response today to denials that have been made both by the South African government and Avient. Translated by Google, the relevant part of this report reads (original Portuguese left in place):

The Avient Air, the aviation company zimbabweana which carried the Republic of Congo to the Zimbabwe military equipment unloaded in Ponta Negra by Yue Jiang An, has long maintained close commercial ties with South Africa, including the defence sector. O transporte foi efectuado por um Ilyushyn-76 com o número de matrícula Z-WTC. The transport was made by a Ilyushyn-76 with the registration number Z-WTC. A presença desta aeronave em Ponta Negra é corroborada por fontes fidedignas, que salientam o facto do Il-76 ter chegado àquele aeroporto congolês num voo proveniente dos Emirados Árabes Unidos. The presence of this aircraft in Ponta Negra is supported by reliable sources, which stress the fact that the Il-76 have reached that Kongo airport on a flight from the United Arab Emirates. Normalmente, essa aeronave da Avient fica estacionada no terminal de carga do aeroporto de Fujairah, perto de Dubai. Normally, this aircraft is stationed in the Avient the freight terminal of the airport of Fujairah, near Dubai.
O voo da Avient Air de Ponta Negra para Harare foi fretado pela ADAJET, uma empresa de aviação dos SASS (Serviços Secretos da África do Sul), que tem como administrador o antigo director de operações do NIA para a área de Gauteng, Lawrence Pieterse. The flight of Avient Air from Ponta Negra for Harare was chartered by ADAJET, an aviation company in the SASS (Secret services of South Africa), which is the former director of the NIA director of operations for the area of Gauteng, Lawrence Pieterse. O NIA, ou National Intelligence Agency, é uma das agências de espionagem sul-africanas. The ISA, or National Intelligence Agency, is one of the agencies of espionage South African. Desde a sua criação em 2004, a ADAJET tem vindo a beneficiar, em regime de monopólio, de voos de carga encomendados pelas Forças Armadas Sul-Africanas e por outras entidades do governo sul-africano. Since its inception in 2004, the ADAJET has enjoyed, under the monopoly of cargo flights commissioned by the South African Defence Force and other entities South African government. Entre outros, a ADAJET transportou uma grande parte dos boletins de voto para as eleições realizadas na República Democrática do Congo e na Nigéria, com a particularidade dos carregamentos terem chegado depois do fecho das assembleias de voto. Among others, the ADAJET carried a large part of ballot papers for elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, with the particularity of the shipments have come after the close of meetings to vote.
De acordo com um relatório do Painel de Especialistas das Nações Unidas sobre a “Exploração Ilegal de Recursos Naturais e Outras Formas de Riqueza na República Democrática do Congo”, publicado em Outubro de 2002, a Avient foi apontada como “estando a violar as Directivas da OECD para as Empresas Multinacionais”. According to a report of the Panel of Experts of the United Nations on the "Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo", published in October 2002, Avient was identified as "being in breach of the Directives OECD for Multinational Enterprises. "
Concretamente, o painel das Nações Unidas alegou que a Avient havia fornecido meios logísticos militares tanto ao Exército Congolês como às Forças de Defesa do Zimbabwe estacionadas na RDC, contribuindo assim para o conflito neste país. Specifically, the panel of the United Nations Avient argued that the military had provided logistical means both the Congolese Army and to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces stationed in the DRC, thus contributing to the conflict in this country. A Avient forneceu tripulações para aeronaves do tipo Antonov 26 e Mi 24 que por sua vez foram usadas em operações ofensivas na RDC numa altura em que aquela transportadora aérea havia sido contratada pelo governo deste país. The Avient provided crews for aircraft of the type Antonov 26 and Mi 24 which in turn were used in offensive operations in the DRC at a time when that carrier had been contracted by the government of this country.
O relatório das Nações Unidas que temos estado a citar refere que a própria Avient confirmou, em declarações prestadas aos membros do painel, que havia efectuado voos de carga do Zimbabwe e da África do Sul para a RDC ao longo de vários anos. The UN report that we have to cite concerns that the Avient confirmed in statements made to members of the panel, which had made flights of cargo from Zimbabwe and South Africa to the DRC over several years. O relatório acrescenta que a Avient é propriedade de um indivíduo que no passado pertenceu às forças militares do Zimbabwe. The report adds that Avient is owned by an individual who in the past belonged to the military forces of Zimbabwe.
Note that the Department of Trade and Industry investigated some of these earlier allegations and found them to be unsubstantiated - the UN failed to provide any evidence, and no corroborative evidence could be found anywhere else.

UPDATE: I mailed Avient and suggested they comment on this post, and the previous one. They have looked at it, but so far no comment.

UPDATE2: More on this at This is Zimbabwe, including what commenters think is Andrew Smith, MD of Avient, sock-puppeting in the comments. The comment in question reads:
First Hand Knowledge
May 19th, 2008 15:19

Avient does NOT carry any arms or ammunition and the aircraft referenced in these articles has not been in Harare since February the 10th. This can be easily verified through the CAAZ Director of Flight Safety & Standards as well as with Air Trafic Control. It is a mystery to me why people do not check logical sources before making wild accusations.
And responses include:
Fish Eagle
May 19th, 2008 17:26

@First Hand Knowledge

Hello Mr Andrew Smith..Your protestations of innocence are at odds with your reputation among professional pilots. Let me list the facts

The plane which delivered the arms is owned by the Zimbabwe Government. Your employees piloted and serviced that plane. It is in your livery. You have an extensive and embracing agreement with the regime which allows you to dominate the Zimbabwe Air Freight services.

I could go on and list the act committed in DRC and Sierra Leone but i would be straying off subject.

You are putting profits before people!!!
Fish Eagle
May 19th, 2008 19:57

Hello “First Hand Knowledge”

I would love a response from you.Are you asleep in Germany cuddling your lap-top. The RGM regime will fall. You will be implicated in some of it’s excesses. Talk to us.!!

The only way you have of preserving your company is to refuse to become implicated in the movement of arms and personnel to suppress the democratic will of the people.

PS. you don’t list branches in Vatry or Zimbabwe in your company submissions to company House. WHY??
Patrick Chirungu
May 20th, 2008 09:54

First Hand Knowledge,

It is interesting that you have not responded to Fish Eagle’s statement that your aircraft IL-76 registration number Z-WTV actualy and physicaly belongs to the Zimbabwe Air Force.

It is so that your new IL-76 aircraft EW-263TH is registered in Belarus, but come clean on your relationship and partnership with the Zimbabwe Air Force, emenating from your days of providing them aircraft, crews, and maintenance for their aircraft, and converting Antonov-12 aircraft to rudimentary bombers that your crews flew and bombed the Goma and Kisangani area’s in the DRC with.

Please elucidate and explain how you manage your relationship with the Zimbabwe regime, how they allow a “much hated” British national to own and operate an aviation business in Zimbabwe, and what price you pay for this obvious convenience, and the role that Mr Lewis Kling plays in this process.

You can be sure that when the RGM regime comes to a fall your convenient collaboration and relationship with the regime will be exposed, that is the nature of these processes, and your business and registration of convenience will summiraly be terminated. Better still, that you will will be held accountable and responsible for your collusion with this evil regime!

If your company’s website so honourably professes that you dont fly weapons and ammunition, why do you neglect to mention that you did in the past, or at least qualify your observation “that you no longer do so”!

Your chickens are coming home to roost and soon your role in destabilising Africa and the suffering that you have caused innocent people through your actions WILL be exposed.
So far there has been no response from "firsthandknowledge".

UPDATE May 22 2008: Avient has just issued the following statement:
“There has been much reported in the press over the last seven days with regards to the shipment of arms allegedly flown into Harare by Avient or Avient Aviation. Many credible publications have checked the authenticity and accuracy of this report directly with Avient and all have dismissed it , as the allegation is wrong and false. The report seems to have originated from a wildly inaccurate report stemming from Mozambique and we can categorically confirm that Avient and Avient Aviation have had no part in this shipment. A number of the publications will be publishing their retractions and apologies in their next issues.

The integrity and reputation of Avient has been unnecessarily tarnished by these allegations. As a company we now seek to put right the damage done by this reckless reporting.

Moving forward Avient would like to reassure both their customers and suppliers of a continually improving service and trust they will see through these completely false allegations".
I'm asking for more details.


Anonymous said...

Re: A.Smith, Avient Aviation denial of involvement. The cited policy is (at least, historically) questionable and the man himself is/was under investigation of war crimes for his and Avient’s involvement in DRC and Rwanda.

The aircraft rumoured to be involved, registered in Belarus and the Zim shell company's existence may not absolve Avient's UK org any longer. Denied involvement may not be easily believable.

(On the other hand, ORIGINALLY the rumour was that it is a Netherlands-based air cargo company.) There is undoubtedly a lot of mis/dis information out there.

Publicly available press reports of the history of Avient & Andrew Smith, the managing director. Below links will lead you to a UK org that is still involved with trying to bring charges.

copy also at
from Oct-2006, ref Avient’s involvement in DRC and Rwanda conflicts
… “Mr Graham Pelham [working as undercover investigator for the UN], a former manager with the airline, Avient Aviation crews were hired to help with logistics. However, they also took part in blanket bombing raids and crewed aircraft involved in other attacks. ”

and the Sunday Times article ref’d in above, which is far more graphic & which mentions Mr.Smith of Wiltshire, UK being investigated for war crimes:
copy also at:
“Avient’s role was supposed to be logistical but Pelham says he was put in charge of helicopter gunships and civilian aircraft that had been converted to drop bombs and were being flown by Avient crews.”

Alex said...

John, as soon as Viktor Bout's extradition from Thailand goes through, I'm shifting target to Avient. I'm especially interested in why they are tolerated in France when the French government just put the arm on Gabon to kick them out.

Usman Ali said...

I am really worry about the future of the Avient. It has been remained my favorite flights to Zimbabwe.