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CABINET BRIEFINGS 

Ramaphosa appoints inter-ministerial committee on SA’s ICC stance, Winde threat of Putin arrest dismissed

Ramaphosa appoints inter-ministerial committee on SA’s ICC stance, Winde threat of Putin arrest dismissed
Minister in The Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has said an inter-ministerial committee led by Deputy President Paul Mashatile has been appointed to address the legal options of hosting “some of the guests” at the BRICS summit, due to be held in South Africa in August, 2023. (Photo: GCIS)

International relations, specifically related to Russia and Sudan were top of Friday’s media briefing following a Cabinet meeting this week. 

“Premier [Alan] Winde can dream about whatever,” said Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister in The Presidency during a cabinet briefing on Friday 28 April, 2023. The comment comes over the announcement by Winde that the Western Cape would arrest Russian president Vladimir Putin if he stepped foot in the Western Cape. 

Winde’s comments came on Freedom Day, where he announced that Law Enforcement Advancement Plan officers would arrest Putin should he enter the Western Cape. Putin is expected to attend a BRICS summit scheduled for August in South Africa. Putin has an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged complicity in war crimes of abducting Ukrainian children and deporting them to Russia. 

South Africa — an ICC member — would be obliged to arrest Putin and surrender him to the ICC if he touched down on South African soil. 

Cabinet met on Wednesday 26 April. During Friday’s Cabinet briefing, Ntshavheni was asked about Winde’s comments.

Ntshavheni said the Western Cape was part of South Africa, not an “independent republic out of South Africa”. She said the laws that apply to the Western Cape apply to the rest of the country. “I do not know if Premier Winde — if president Putin is in the country and he is protected by the Presidential Protection Services — I don’t know how Premier Winder who does not even have policing functions will then get through the Presidential Protection Services,” she said. 

“So Premier Winde can dream of whatever,”  said the minister and added: “but what is important is the work of the inter-ministerial committee”. 

New inter-ministerial committee 

During the briefing, Ntshavheni said Cabinet “reaffirms South Africa’s participation in the International Criminal Court and confirms that we remain a signatory to the Rome Statute”. Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africa would pull out of the ICC because of “unfair treatment” by the court. 

However, later in the day, the statement was retracted with the president’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya stating South Africa remained a signatory to the Rome Statute and would continue to campaign for equal and consistent application of international law. 

Read in Daily Maverick: President Ramaphosa ‘erroneously’ announces SA’s withdrawal from International Criminal Court

During Friday’s briefing, Ntshavheni said, “South Africa will continue to advocate for strengthening institutions of global governance, and we continue to campaign for equal and consistent application of international law”. She also stated the president had appointed an inter-ministerial committee led by Deputy President Paul Mashatile that “is considering various options on the matter,” as it related to “some of the guests” expected at a BRICS summit in August to be held in the country. The inter-ministerial committee would report back to Cabinet- and a decision would be taken from there. 

Sudan repatriation

During the briefing, Ntshavheni said a report was welcomed that set out complex yet successful evacuations of South Africans from Sudan, where conflict is “impacting on citizens and nationals from other countries”. 

Read in Daily Maverick: ‘God have mercy on us, because no one else gives a damn’ — millions in Sudan abandoned to their fate 

The Department of International Relations as well as the South African Air Force worked to bring South Africans to safety. The Gift of the Givers has also assisted in bringing back South Africans trapped in the conflict-torn country. “The South African evacuation mission also assisted nationals from  Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Brazil,” said Ntshavheni. 

Sudan Civil War — a traumatic view from Bus 3 on a dark escape from warzone atrocity

“Cabinet also expressed its appreciation to the government of Egypt for supporting our evacuation mission and the United Arab Emirates for evacuating one South African who is now being assisted by our mission in Jeddah to return home,” she said. 

Five South Africans remain in Sudan because, “at the time of the evacuation they had not made contact with our embassy,” said Ntshavheni, who added: “Cabinet reiterated the call for an end to hostilities in Sudan and calls for peace and calm among the parties involved in the conflict, in keeping with the African Union  (AU) objective of silencing the guns on the continent”.

Energy crisis 

During the Cabinet briefing, Ntshavheni said Cabinet called on consumers to “assist in saving electricity by using it sparingly while Eskom works with Independent Power Producers to bring new capacity online”. South Africa is currently in various stages of scheduled power cuts over this long weekend. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Shedding some light on Eskom’s eight stages of grief and pain

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Terril Scott says:

    No Committee needed Mr. President. As a member of the ICC, SA is obliged to arrest and give up to the ICC anyone against whom there is an arrest warrant.

    • Andrew Blaine says:

      But, like the porcines in Animal Farm, they are more entitled! The law is for guidance not obedience?

    • Antoine van Gelder says:

      Unless, of course, the function of the committee is to write the statement that will be issued when SA does not honor its responsibilities as a member of the ICC.

    • Hantie Kruger says:

      Exactly. Doing the right thing is the right thing to do. Stop passing the buck, Pres. Ramaphosa and Cabinet. Just sit down and wait for strong leadership with values and respect for justice and law to act responsibly. We’re tired of costly commissions who government doesn’t listen to anyway.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Mr President to help move this along I think you should with urgency form a committee or a war room, or possibly even a war palace! whose raison d’etre be the determination of whether or not you should be forming the committee to try and weasel out of the impossible/indefensible predicament you find yourself in.

      And you should of course make us tax payers foot the bill as usual – I mean, why wouldn’t you.

  • Sam Shu says:

    OMG, another committee to do nothing and muddle accountability. A real committee with a real agenda and real people on it would come to the obvious and legal and moral conclusion that South Africa needs to condemn Russia and arrest Putin if he comes here.

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    I completely agree with all comments – for once :). Mr President, there are no options; if Mr Putin lands on SA soil he must be arrested, according to both the ICC and your own courts – klaar!

    • Vas K says:

      The recent ICC confusion just re-affirms that ANC are just a bunch of random clueless individuals. No news there. But personally I am very surprised that we are and plan to remain in ICC. It is nothing but a mechanism for creating and punishing scapegoats, usually nobodies from developing countries, and occasionally inconvenient individuals from elsewhere. I keep reading that USA should be our role model and be kissed up to. So why remain in ICC if USA pointedly avoids joining this institution? Clearly “the world warlord” has no shortage of war criminals who should be tried and sentenced by ICC. What is actually in this farce for South Africa? Is selective justice what we want?

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Good morning committee members. We have 3 choices. Arrest Putin as he steps off his plane. Be in contravention of a treaty and our own laws. Disinvite Putin. Vote now and collect you attendence fee in cash on the way out.

  • John Millar says:

    With Comrade Khumbudzo in charge, we urgently need oversight of the Presidency.

  • Bonnita Hill says:

    No day passes without us just hanging our heads in shame Mr. Ramaphosa!
    I used to be so proud of being a post-Apartheid South African. Our community in Sonnedal in tandem with the growing numbers of people flocking into ‘Zandspruit squatter camp’ (the first in an upper-income area), worked our jacks off to establish a day-school primarily. Then a night-school followed; a clinic; and various other activities …
    We were one and all led by the example of Madiba, and were transfused with absolute belief in a shared future ensconced in justice and equality for all. We treasured the same belief system: I’ll never forget how the women chased a man quilty of raping a child, out of Zandspruit with broken bottles … he never returned! I was talking one day to Margaret Matiwane a Xhosa leader, when a white man walked by carrying a little Pick’nPay bag. Surprised, I queried his presence. In a matter-of-fact voice she replied: ‘He’s homeless’. Not the first time I saw Batho Pele in action there.
    When I visited friends in the area a year ago, I was shattered to see the extent of pollution, decay and destruction everywhere! And I wondered whether Paul Mashatile our Deputy President, also views his contribution there, with such devastating disillusionment, as I do mine.
    I can never return … it’s an alien world now. There’s no consideration. No justice. Everyone demands. Everyone grabs. It too, sadly, has deteriorated into a ‘little South Africa’.
    Sooo sad. So very, very sad!

  • Sharon S says:

    So again, CR cannot take definitive action and sets up a committee. Perhaps the Western Cape should say nothing and simply arrest Putin when he does step foot in SA –thus acting in accordance with the ICC and SA Court ruling that the rules of the ICC supercede a policy opinion. AND ALSO enact sanctions against Russia interests and activities that are being allowed to carry on in SA. Mr. President – here is an idea: ask the PEOPLE of South Africa what they want done ! ( pssst… remember you are suppose to be representing them.. not your comrades in the the criminal syndicates … so heads up ) – You should hold a Referendum on the ANC preference for supporting war criminals and terrorist countries and its withdrawal from the ICC – and then act accordingly . As much to your blind ego’s surprise Your views and the ANC views DO NOT REFLECT the views and respect for law & justice and values of the people of SA , to not act in accordance with the ICC and pursue relations and support of Russia is acting against the democracy and constitution of SA .

  • Stefan Hendriks says:

    It is high time that the ANC shed its 1960’s freedom fighter mentality. Those times are long over, important times in the history of South Africa to be sure, but long over. Today our country is crying out for good governance for the betterment of all its people. Get your heads out of the clouds, and while you’re at it, your fingers out of the till. The international community, at least those who care, shake their heads at your school yard antics of double-speak, word salad, straight-out lying and cover-ups. You’re a disappointment to your own long-suffering people and an embarrassing excuse for a government. It has been 30 years, so stop blaming the shadows over your shoulders. BRICS is a political honey trap and irrelevant on the world stage as an organization. Step away from the Putin criminal enterprise, you are severely testing the patience of the the hand that feeds you and leading our people into yet another African failed state abyss. You are not going to be able to play both sides of the ICC fence, no matter what your “committee” dreams up.

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