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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Presidency slams talks of sanctions against SA as ‘reckless and alarmist’

Magwenya says there is no evidence pointing to any emergence of sanctions from any country.

The Presidency has slammed talks of sanctions against South Africa in light of its non-aligned stance on the Russia-Ukraine war as “reckless and alarmist”.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya on Monday briefed the media on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public programme for the week.

There have been talks of the possibility of South Africa being isolated by the West for its non-aligned stance on the war in Ukraine. The ruling party’s relationship with Russia has also been subject of criticism.

The South African government has also repeatedly called for negotiations between the warring countries as a means to reach a ceasefire.

“South Africa has taken a non-aligned stance on the conflict in Ukraine. South Africa has not participated in arming any of the parties that are involved in that conflict. On the contrary, South Africa has taken upon itself to mobilise support and to mobilise engagement that will result in a peaceful resolution to this conflict,” said Magwenya.

“South Africa has been consistent to call for peace and to call for the parties involved in the conflict to sit down in the negotiation table. President Ramaphosa has reportedly stated that there is no conflict that will end with a winner or a loser, and that only a peaceful negotiation and resolution to this conflict will see peace in that region.”

African peace mission

In an attempt to get the two countries to stop the war, African presidents will be travelling to the two countries to facilitate peaceful negotiations.

The leaders include the President of the Comoros Islands and current President of the African Union Othman Ghazali, President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema.

Although a statement from the Presidency said the presidents had confirmed their availability to travel to Ukraine and Russia in mid-June, Magwenya on Monday said he could not share exact details of the travel plan due to security reasons.

“Due to the sensitivity of the security situation on the ground, particularly in the Ukraine, we are unable to confirm publicly the dates in which the delegation of the African Heads of State will travel to both countries,” he said.

“We will most likely confirm on the day that peace talks are taking place and potentially even confirm once the delegation has left the Ukraine. That’s the decision that’s been taken.

“Generally speaking, there has been a great deal of commitment from all Heads of State involved to see through this mission. President Ramaphosa has participated in a number of consultations with the participants with the mission participants, as well as consultations with both Heads of States that are involved in the conflict, including the UN General Secretary and Heads of State that are members of BRICS.

“There have been a number of consultations with regard to this peace mission, with the aim of getting some kind of support to the mission, but also alignment across the number of initiatives that are there,” he said.

Talks of sanctions ‘alarmist’

Magwenya further slammed talks of sanctions against South Africa an alarmist, saying there was no evidence pointing to that effect.

“We are a little bit surprised at this talk of sanctions, which, quite honestly, we regard as reckless and as very damaging to our already ailing and struggling economy. We find this talk of sanctions as being purely alarmist and we find it to be quite undermining to South Africa’s sovereignty and the stability of our economy,” he said.

“There is no evidence whatsoever to point to any emergence of sanctions from any country or even the United Nations Security Council, which is the only authority to institute global sanctions.

“There is no such talk. We’ve had, as a government, several bilateral discussions with the US government and there has been no suggestion that the US will consider applying sanctions to South Africa.”

Lady R panel

Last month, US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety angered the South African government after saying he would “bet my life” on the ‘fact’ that South Africa had provided ammunition to Russia in December.

The ambassador claimed Russian vessel Lady R docked at the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town and received the weapons from the South African government.

The South African government denied the claims, and later established an independent inquiry to investigate the allegations.

The panel, according to Magwenya, is continuing with its work.

“It will interact with all concerned role players and stakeholders on the matter. It will also seek to hear from interested parties with any information that will assist its investigation. Written submissions can be made to the panel’s secretariat by email to ladyr.gov.za,” said Magwenya.

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