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Archive for South Africa

Newsline: BRICS top diplomats meet in South Africa

As the United States struggles to maintain influence across vast parts of the Global South, the expanding BRICS bloc led by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is receiving more applications than ever before, signaling a growing shift in the international economic order. The top diplomats of the five core BRICS nations began their latest high-level meeting Thursday in Cape Town, South Africa, a prelude to the 15th annual leaders’ summit scheduled to take place in Durban, on the country’s eastern coast, in August. Long dismissed by Western analysts as a mere multilateral marriage of convenience, this year’s BRICS gatherings serve as an opportunity to discuss how far the group has come and where its future lies amid growing calls to challenge the Western-led global financial system and the U.S. dollar. But Anil Sooklal, a veteran diplomat who serves as South Africa’s ambassador-at-large to BRICS, asserts that “BRICS is not a group of countries that is in opposition to any particular grouping.” “We would like to cooperate with all of our global partners both in the Global North and South to collectively address some of the challenges that we are facing,” Sooklal told Newsweek, “in terms of reforming the global governance architecture, to make it more inclusive, more equitable, and more just and fair, which many of us continue to feel that it’s not.” (https://www.newsweek.com/china-russias-growing-brics-bloc-speeds-decline-us-influence-1803685) And while Sooklal identified a number of factors driving this inequality, including climate change, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing global technology gap, he argued that deficiencies in the existing order led by the wealthiest nations was at the heart of why more countries were choosing BRICS.

Newsline: African leaders seek diplomatic solution to cease hostilities in Ukraine

Six African leaders propose that Ukraine accept opening peace talks with Russia even as Russian troops remain on its soil, South Africa’s presidency said, as South African officials prepare to visit both countries to sell the idea. “First is the cessation of hostilities. Second is a framework for lasting peace,” South African Presidency Spokesman Vincent Magwenya said. (https://neuters.de/world/african-leaders-seek-persuade-russia-ukraine-cease-hostilities-2023-05-22/) President Cyril Ramaphosa first announced the initiative on May 16. President Macky Sall of Senegal, last year’s African Union chairman whose country was not present at the latest U.N. vote condemning Russia in February this year, leads the initiative. It includes presidents Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia – which both voted for the resolution – and Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, which both abstained. The peace mission is expected to travel to both Moscow and Kiyv in early June.

Newsline: South Africa’s ambassador to Algeria has died

South Africa’s ambassador to Algeria, Billy Masetlha has died after a long illness. (https://www.enca.com/news/sa-ambassador-algeria-billy-masetlha-has-died) Masetlha has a long career in government having served as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, among others. He was a member of Umkhonto We Sizwe and was deeply involved in the anti-apartheid movement. Masetlha was exiled in Botswana and Zambia. International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has sent her condolences to the Masetlha family. Pandor says South Africa has lost a dependable representative and a firm believer in the ideals and goals of pan-Africanism.

Newsline: US ambassador apologised for alleging South Africa supplied arms to Russia

South Africa’s foreign ministry says the US ambassador has “apologised unreservedly” for claiming the country sold weapons to Russia. (https://news.yahoo.com/south-africa-tries-restore-us-125907964.html) On Thursday Reuben Brigety alleged a Russian ship was loaded with ammunition and weapons in Cape Town last December. South Africa says it has no record of an arms sale and President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered an inquiry. Writing on social media after meeting the foreign ministry, Mr Brigety said he was “grateful for the opportunity to… correct any misimpressions left by my public remarks”. He said in the conversation he “re-affirmed the strong partnership between our two countries and the important agenda our presidents have given us”. The White House national security spokesman would not be drawn on details of the allegations.

Newsline: South Africa rejects accusations of U.S. ambassador

South African officials on Friday hit back at U.S. accusations that a sanctioned Russian ship had collected weapons from a naval base near Cape Town late last year, a move investors fear could lead Washington to impose sanctions. On Friday, a minister responsible for arms control and a foreign ministry spokesman said the country had not approved any arms shipment to Russia in December. “We didn’t approve any arms to Russia, … it wasn’t sanctioned or approved by us,” Communications Minister Mondli Gungubele, who chaired the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) when the alleged arms shipment to Russia took place, told 702 radio. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/south-african-minister-we-didnt-approve-any-arms-shipment-russia-2023-05-12/) The U.S. ambassador to South Africa said on Thursday he was confident that a Russian ship uploaded weapons from the Simon’s Town base in December, suggesting the incident was not in line with Pretoria’s stance of neutrality in the Ukraine conflict. Western diplomats were alarmed at South Africa carrying out naval exercises with Russia and China this year, and at the timing of a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. South Africa is one of Russia’s most important allies on a continent.

Newsline: US ambassador accuses South Africa of supplying arms to Russia

The US ambassador to South Africa has accused the country of supplying weapons to Russia despite its professed neutrality in the war in Ukraine. Reuben Brigety claimed that a Russian ship was loaded with ammunition and arms in Cape Town last December. Mr Brigety said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday that Washington had concerns about the country’s stated non-aligned stance on the conflict. He referred to the docking of a cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base between 6 and 8 December last year which he was “confident” uploaded weapons and ammunition “as it made its way back to Russia”. The presence of the ship, the Lady R, had seemed curious at the time and raised questions from some local politicians. “The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved,” Mr Brigety said, in a damning accusation that seems to have caught South Africa’s officials off guard. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-ambassador-accuses-south-africa-151856297.html) President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office said it was disappointed by the claims and said no evidence has been provided to support them.

Newsline: South African Parliament Votes to Downgrade Embassy in Israel

South African lawmakers voted Tuesday to downgrade the country’s embassy in Israel, a move welcomed by human rights advocates around the world. The resolution to downgrade the status of South Africa’s embassy in Ramat Gan, just east of Tel Aviv, to a liaison office was introduced by the center-left National Freedom Party (NFP), which hailed the measure’s passage as “a historic moment for our country and a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to justice, human rights, and freedom.” (https://www.commondreams.org/news/israel-south-africa) Holding just two seats in the Parliament, the NFP secured the resolution’s passage with the support of parties including the dominant African National Congress (ANC), Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement, African Independent Congress, Al-Jama-ah, and Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania. While Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the vote “shameful and disgraceful,” NFP Member of Parliament Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, who introduced the resolution, said after its passage that “this is a moment Madiba would be proud of.” Emam was referring to former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who advocated for Palestinian rights and for Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.

Newsline: South Africa’s top diplomat defends planned military drills with Russia and China

South Africa’s foreign minister deflected criticism of joint military drills planned with Russia and China, saying that hosting such exercises with “friends” was the “natural course of relations.” (https://neuters.de/world/africa/russias-lavrov-visits-ally-south-africa-amid-western-rivalry-2023-01-23/) Naledi Pandor made her comments during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was visiting South Africa 11 months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A South African official, who declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak, said Lavrov would afterwards visit Eswatini, Botswana and Angola. In Washington, the White House expressed worry about South Africa’s military plans.

Newsline: South Africa’s President calls US embassy’s warning “unfortunate”

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday regretted as “unfortunate” the US embassy’s issuing of a warning of a possible weekend “terrorist” attack in the country without consulting his government. “It is quite unfortunate the US issued that type of warning without having any type of discussion with us,” he said during a press conference. “Any form of alert will come from the government of the republic of South Africa and it is unfortunate that another government should issue such a threat as to send panic amongst our people,” said Ramaphosa. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-terror-alert-africa-unfortunate-132342048.html) The US embassy on Wednesday posted the alert on its website and identified the potential target as Sandton, a suburb in the country’s financial hub of Johannesburg. The alert said the attack could occur there on Saturday.

Newsline: South Africa hosts diplomatic talks on Ethiopia’s Tigray

Peace talks to end Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict have begun in South Africa, a South African government spokesman said Tuesday. It is the highest-level diplomatic effort yet to end two years of fighting that has killed perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. The spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Vincent Magwenya, said the African Union-led talks that started Tuesday are expected to continue until Sunday. “Such talks are in line with South Africa’s foreign policy objectives of a secure and conflict-free continent,” Magwenya said. (https://www.mrt.com/news/article/South-Africa-says-Ethiopia-peace-talks-have-begun-17532652.php) Delegations from the Ethiopian government and Tigray authorities arrived in South Africa this week. There was no immediate comment from either side.