Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

‘America is becoming a crybaby’: Malema dismisses US claims of SA supplying weapons to Russia

SA will not be swayed by the US’ influence on who to choose to befriend, says the EFF leader.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has dismissed the United States’ claims that the South African government provided weapons to Russia for its conflict in Ukraine.

Russia-Ukraine war

The US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, on Thursday, made a shocking announcement that Pretoria had supplied arms to Russia in December of last year. According to Brigety, a Russian vessel named Lady R had docked at the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town and received the weapons from the South African government.

ALSO READ: US ambassador accuses SA of supplying weapons to Russia

The South African government has since expressed its displeasure with Ambassador Brigety’s decision to make the allegations public. However, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that an independent inquiry, led by a retired judge, will be established to investigate the claims.

‘American concerns are misplaced’

After attending a play about the EFF at the Soweto Theatre on Thursday evening, Malema spoke to the media and dismissed Washington’s concerns over the alleged arms deal, saying that they were “unfounded”.

He said Pretoria did not have the capability to supply weapons to Russia, further challenging the validity of the claims.

“The American concerns are misplaced; the current government [in SA] has got no capacity to empower Russians with weapons against their own handlers.

“The concerns of America in relation to South Africa’s posture in the war between Russia and Ukraine is unfounded,” he said.

RELATED: US ‘getting over-excited’ over accusation that SA supplied arms to Russia

Malema defended Moscow, pointing out that South Africa has had a longstanding relationship with Russia, dating back to when it was still the Soviet Union.

He said that SA would not be swayed by the United States’ influence on who they choose to befriend.

“I don’t think there should be anything that we should be worried about, there is no one with such capacity in South Africa who can supply Russian with weapons. If anything, it is the other way round.”

America is ‘becoming a crybaby’

The EFF leader welcomed the establishment of an inquiry into the matter, saying he looked forward to its outcome.

He also accused the US of being overly sensitive regarding South Africa’s non-alignment stance in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, saying America was “becoming a crybaby”.

“America is just becoming a crybaby trying to find a way into punishing South Africa because of our position on the Russia-Ukraine war,” he said.

Malema further alleged that the US was attempting to pressure SA into executing the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged involvement in war crimes in Ukraine.

READ: US claims of SA-Russia arms exchange rattles rand

He claimed that the US was using the upcoming Brics summit, which Putin is expected to attend, as a means to coerce South Africa into taking action against the Russian leader.

“They want us not to allow President Putin to come and now they are spreading false alarms and propaganda as an attempt to put pressure on South Africa.

“We call on our government not to surrender to that pressure. President Putin is more than welcome here, the people of South Africa will protect him [and] it’s not that he doesn’t have the capacity to protect himself.

“No one in South Africa and the whole African continent combined has got the capacity to arrest President Putin.

“So, we shouldn’t even take chances, he must come here and have his meetings and then leave. We must sell South Africa to Brics and Russia.”

In a statement late on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the Presidency “noted with concern” the claims made by Ambassador Brigety.

SA ‘disappointed’ in US ambassador

Magwenya said the ambassador’s remarks undermined “the spirit of cooperation and partnership” that characterised the recent engagements between US government officials and a South African high-level delegation to Washington led by National Security Special Advisor to the President, Dr Sydney Mufamadi.

“In recent engagements between the South African delegation and US officials, the Lady R matter was discussed and there was agreement that an investigation will be allowed to run its course and that the US intelligence services will provide whatever evidence in their possession.

“It is, therefore, disappointing that the US ambassador has adopted a counter-productive public posture that undermines the understanding reached on the matter and the very positive and constructive engagements between the two delegations,” said Magwenya.

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