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South Africa’s non-aligned position does not favour Russia, Ramaphosa says

South Africa’s non-aligned position does not favour Russia, Ramaphosa says
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 5th South Africa Investment Conference in Johannesburg. (Photo:Jairus Mmutle / GCIS)

JOHANNESBURG, May 15 (Reuters) – President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that South Africa’s non-aligned position does not favour Russia over other states and reiterated its call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Ramaphosa’s comments in his weekly presidential newsletter came on the heels of US allegations last week that weapons were loaded onto Russian ship Lady R from the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town late in 2022, which sparked a diplomatic row.

South African officials swiftly rejected claims by the US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety, who also said senior US officials had “profound concerns” about South Africa’s professed policy of non-alignment and neutrality over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 

US won’t sanction South Africa over weapons row, Godongwana says

Ukraine President Zelensky warns Ramaphosa against selling arms to Russia

“We do not accept that our non-aligned position favours Russia above other countries. Nor do we accept that it should imperil our relations with other countries,” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa would continue to honour international agreements and treaties it is a signatory to and its approach to US allegations of arms shipment would abide by them, he added.

‘No concrete evidence’

Ramaphosa’s office has said no concrete evidence has been provided to support the claims made by the ambassador, but that an inquiry led by a retired judge would look into them.

Several ministers, including the one responsible for arms control, a foreign ministry spokesman and the communications minister have said South Africa had not approved any arms shipment to Russia in December.

Brigety was summoned on Friday to meet Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and he apologised “unreservedly” to the government and the people of South Africa, the Foreign Ministry said.

Read daily Maverick’s Lady R coverage here

“I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with Foreign Minister Pandor… and correct any misimpressions left by my public remarks,” Brigety said in a tweet that did not confirm whether he had apologised.

South Africa, which has abstained from voting on UN resolutions on Russia’s war in Ukraine, says it is impartial, but Western countries consider it to be one of Moscow’s closest allies on the continent. Reuters/DM

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Jamie Freed)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Cape Doctor says:

    Do you know the muffled man
    The muffled man, the muffled man
    Do you know the muffled man
    Who lives in cuckoo land.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Translation (not) : if Ukraine wanted 155mm howitzers and 1m rounds we would as willingly supply Ukraine as we supply putin. Same goes for propellant, Rooivalk choppers – anything goes if you are “neutral”.

    We should ask Ukraine to ask Ramaphosa to ask former prisoner Zuma whether we can sell some spare canons and rounds to Ukraine…

  • Rae Earl says:

    Ramaphosa spent years under Zuma’s thumb, watching the mayhem that he was unleashing on the poorest citizens in this country. Ramaphosa, to his everlasting shame, did nothing about it. He said nothing. He was a compliant foot soldier doing exactly what the Adolph Eichmans of the world did under Hitler. Cyril ‘followed orders’ to ensure he kept his comfortable job with all the perks, by being a yes-man to a corrupt president who couldn’t read a six digit number, much less run a country of 60 million people. Ramaphosa bows and scrapes to Putin and his mob and gives a middle finger to the Western nations despite the fact that they, and only they, can solve our problems. And the West is getting sick and tired of our president’s subservient flopping down before Putin. South Africa is in grave danger thanks to this servility from our country’s leader.

  • David Banford says:

    Yes, I know the phosa………….

  • Paddy Ross says:

    It seems that in a case of Gender Based Violence South Africa would regard having a drink with the perpetrator of the violence as ‘non- alignment? Right is always right and wrong is always wrong. Does SA not think that it was wrong of Russia to invade Ukraine?

  • Yagyanand Maharaj says:

    Wonder why South Africa is just not dealing with the critical issue: What went on the ship? They must know?
    In addition it seems as though the Ambassador only regretted not following protocol; he didnt withdraw the substance of his allegation. Conveniently ignored….

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Actions speak louder than words, Mr useless president! Typical spineless and duplicitous Ramaphosa and anc. All our actions are very much aligned with the evil Putin’s Russia. We can clearly see it, the world can clearly see it- only you and your despicable government can’t or won’t see it. No amount of double-speak and smoke/mirrors will change the reality on the ground that you and your revolting anc are liars, traitors, parasites and thieves.

  • Amanda Hayes says:

    What could we supply to Russia in terms of military equipment? Do we have an armaments industry still? According to News24, “Only 8 of SA’s 46 Rooivalk, Oryx helicopters can still fly”. Just asking.

    • Johan Buys says:

      Russia uses mix of 152mm and 155mm artillery canons. They ran out of 152mm to the extent that Iran, North Korea and Syria (that all use 152mm) had to step up. The big producers of 155mm rounds, and the armies that use 155mm howitzers will not supply putin. We produce 155mm artillery rounds 20 miles from Simons Town.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    Mr President, please just stop pretending that South Africa is “neutral” or “non-aligned”, it is not fooling anyone, least of all our key trading partners, or Ukraine. Efforts to act as “mediator” for peace also not at all credible, especially to Ukraine.

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