Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

SA summons US ambassador over claims govt supplied weapons to Russia

The National Conventional Arms Control Committee says it has no record of any approved arms sale by government to Russia.

The South African government has announced that it will issue a démarche to the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, in response to his explosive claims that government provided weapons to Russia for its conflict in Ukraine.

A démarche is a formal diplomatic communication in which a government expresses its official position or displeasure on a particular matter to an appropriate official in another government.

Russia-Ukraine war

Brigety, on Thursday, made a shocking announcement that Pretoria had supplied arms to Russia in December of last year.

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

According to the ambassador, 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.

The Presidency has since announced an independent inquiry, led by a retired judge, will be established to investigate the claims.

‘No record of any approved arms sale’

Taking to Twitter, the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), Clayson Monyela, on Friday, announced that Dirco would be issuing a démarche to Brigety in response to his recent claims.

Monyela added that Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor will also be speaking with her US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, later in the afternoon to address the issue further.

Monyela also stated that South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee has no record of any approved arms sale by the government to Russia during the time frame in question, as mentioned by the US ambassador.

 “We, therefore, welcome the inquiry established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish the facts and role players. If any crimes were committed, the law will take its course,” he said.

Outa calls on govt to come clean

Meanwhile, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has called on the South African government to be transparent about the US’s allegations.

Outa says there is no immediate need for the South African government to establish an inquiry into the allegations at this time. Instead, the organisation believes that the government should be transparent with citizens and provide them with information about whether or not the allegations are true.

Economic hardship

Wayne Duvenage, Outa’s chief executive officer, warned that the claims could lead to a series of events that would cause significant economic hardship for the country, particularly with the recent fall of the rand following the news.

Duvenage emphasised the need for government to be forthcoming about what was on the Russian vessel, stressing that citizens have the right to know what their government is supplying to foreign countries.

“These issues are already having a negative impact on the current exchange rates, with the potential for significant negative economic repercussions for South Africa.

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“What we find unacceptable is government’s response to introduce an independent inquiry into whether armaments and ammunition were loaded into the Russian ship or not,” he said.

“As citizens, we have the right to know what our government supplies to foreign countries. There is no need for an inquiry at this stage, instead, we want absolute transparency to South African citizens and the world on this matter.”

Not rocket science 

Duvenage believes that determining whether or not South Africa provided weapons to Russia should not be a complex issue that needs an inquiry.

He argued that government should be able to easily provide a straightforward answer to this question.

“The South African government owes its citizens nothing less than the truth on this matter, so that we can get on with easing the tensions rising between us and our biggest trading partners and save our country from any further embarrassment and possible negative trade impacts that will be devastating to the country.”

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

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