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By Getrude Makhafola

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Ramaphosa to announce decision on Putin at ‘right time’ – Mbalula

Mbalula says MPs have been tasked with looking into the amendment of the Roman Statute to exempt people such as Putin.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula says President Cyril Ramaphosa will “at the right time” announce government’s decision on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has an international warrant of arrest hanging on his head.

Brics summit

Ramaphosa appointed Deputy President Paul Mashatile to lead a task team looking into options for South Africa ahead of Putin’s touchdown in the country to attend the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in August.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant has put the state between a rock and a hard place as it also threatens trade ties with the US, which wants the Russian president to be arrested when he lands in the country.

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

Addressing the ANC Western Cape conference on Saturday, Mbalula said Russia was an important Brics partner for South Africa.

“The president and government have been given a mandate by the ANC to deal with this matter.

“It is our turn to host the Brics summit and the president will at the right moment brief the nation and everybody else about what will happen, having exhausted all avenues of ensuring that Brics takes place successfully.”

Rome Statute poser

South Africa remains a signatory to the Rome Statute despite calls to withdraw from the ICC following the former Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir debacle during the 2015 African Union summit in Johannesburg.

READ: Western Cape ready to arrest Vladimir Putin

The governing ANC’s national conference in 2022 opted to rescind an earlier decision to withdraw from the ICC.

However, the ANC has since made a U-turn, with its national executive committee (NEC) deciding two months ago that it was “prudent” for South Africa to withdraw from the ICC.

But according to Mbalula, parliamentarians have been tasked with amending the Rome Statute to exempt the arrest of “individuals such as Putin.”

“We are signatories of the ICC Rome Statute, and we say that must be amended to allow people of Putin’s calibre to be exempted when they visit our country.

“We didn’t start that, even UK has that. Our parliamentarians have been given the responsibility to amend the domestication of Roman Statues, that is what we are talking about as the ANC,” Mbalula told the delegates.

SA’s non-aligned stance

He reiterated that South Africa wasn’t picking sides in the Russia-Ukraine war.

“All that we said is that we are non-aligned, and we went and told Ukrainian President Zelensky and Putin through an African mission, led by President Ramaphosa, acting with other African states.

“We said: ‘Stop the war’. They say we didn’t take a stand, but we did and told them to stop this war.

“Wars are resolved through dialogues, and the platform of engagement is the United Nations Charter which addresses the aggression by one to another.”

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