The Centre for Risk Analysis says the Presidency’s reaction to claims that South Africa supplied Russia with weapons further feeds into the perception of the President not being in control of his cabinet.
The center’s Head of Policy Analysis, Chris Hattingh, made the remarks in an interview with our sister channel, eNCA.
It followed US Ambassador to SA Reuben Brigety’s allegations that in December last year, weapons of war were loaded on board a Russian ship before it left Simon’s Town in Cape Town.
While the Presidency says an independent inquiry will investigate the claims, it has expressed disappointment that the US took this matter to the public without awaiting the outcome of the probe.
Hattingh says the allegations could have adverse long-term effects on South Africa’s relationship with the US.
South Africa is America’s biggest trading partner in Africa and the spat has raised concerns that Pretoria’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) agreement with the US might not be renewed in 2025.
AGOA provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries, including SA with duty-free access to the US market for over 1 800 products.
The Ukraine Embassy in SA has confirmed its intention to request an urgent meeting with he Defence Minister, Thandi Modise, over this.
Meanwhile, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) says the law will take its course if the allegations about South Africa having supplied Russia with weapons are proven true.
US Ambassador to SA, Reuben Brigety, is on the other hand adamant that weapons were loaded on the Russian ship, Lady R.
“The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved, and we would like SA to start practicing its non-alignment policy,” he says.
Opposition parties shared mixed reactions over this, with the DA calling for Minister Modise to be fired immediately for the scandal.
The main opposition party’s leader, John Steenhuisen, also raised concerns over the negative impact this situation could have on the country’s position within AGOA.
“The president should take the nation into his confidence, as this situation is not something that can just linger,” he says.
EFF leader, Julius Malema, rejected the US’s claims as unfounded.
Malema says South Africa has a long-standing relationship with Russia and the US can’t choose friends for Pretoria.
“No one has capacity in South Africa to supply Russia with weapons. If anything – it is the other way around.”
The EFF leader believes that Washington is trying to punish South Africa for its position on the Russia-Ukraine war.
South Africa has not taken sides since Russia invaded the Ukraine in 2022.
However, Pretoria has called for all parties involved to go to the negotiation table to find a peaceful, amicable solution to their differences.
Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa