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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

WATCH: Is SA reconsidering Putin’s invitation to attend Brics summit?

As a signatory to the Rome Statute, SA is in a dilemma of acting on an arrest warrant issued for Putin by the International Criminal Court

Could South Africa be reconsidering its invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in August?

African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Fikile Mbalula hinted that South Africa could rescind its invite to the Russian leader due to the country’s international obligations as a Rome Statute signatory.

Mbalula told The Sunday Times that Putin “should not feel belittled” if the invitation is withdrawn.

“Russia must not feel belittled if it so happens that their president does not come because South Africa is a signatory to the ICC. It is what it is. They can still participate in the Brics forum and that’s what’s important, so it shouldn’t change anything,” said Mbalula.

Watch Fikile Mbalula speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South Africa

ANC to decide

However, Mbalula said the matter is being handled by government and any communication will emanate from government channels.

“We have said government handled this matter in terms of the law. We are guided by the law. We are the signatories of the Rome Statute which bind us in terms of these issues.

“So, we as the ANC, we will want to amend certain sections of the Rome Statute to address the waiver for people of President Putin who come to our country so that they should be accepted,” Mbalula said.

ALSO READ: To Rome or roam: Why is Putin such a headache for SA?

However, Mbalula acknowledged that the changes the ANC is seeking may not be implemented before Putin’s arrival in the country.

As a signatory to the Rome Statute, South Africa must act on the international arrest warrant issued for Putin’s arrest relating to Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine.

Brics cooperation

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in a press statement, said its keen to develop future cooperation with the Brics group to achieve collective prosperity.

During the ministerial meeting of ‘Friends of Brics’ in Cape Town hosted by international relations minister Naledi Pandor, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister ,Prince Faisal, said this country aims to advance this cooperation with Brics.

“The Kingdom remains the Brics group’s largest commercial partner in the Middle East…The total value of bilateral trade with the countries of the Brics group increased from $81 billion in 2017 and 128 billion in 2021 and exceeded $160 billion in 2022,” he said.

Prince Faisal also reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to work with international partners to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

ALSO READ: SA avoids Putin arrest dilemma at Brics meeting