Recently, the United States accused South Africa of secretly supplying arms to Russia, a move that could potentially cause a crisis for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government. This accusation was made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, who stated that weapons were loaded onto a Russian naval ship in December at the Simon’s Town naval dockyard near Cape Town.
Brigety emphasized the seriousness of the issue and expressed concerns about the implications of South Africa’s alleged arming of Russia. He also urged South Africa to practice its non-alignment policy, which would prevent it from taking sides in conflicts such as Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
In response to the accusation, Ramaphosa stated that the matter is being “looked into”. If proven to be true, this accusation could have severe consequences for South Africa’s relationship with the Western world. The leader of ActionSA, Herman Mashaba, expressed concern that actively supporting Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine could harm South Africa’s reputation with its international partners.
The accusation has also had an immediate impact on South Africa’s economy, as the rand crashed to its previous record low. Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February last year, Ramaphosa’s government has been careful not to take sides. However, questions have arisen about its neutrality due to the ANC’s historical friendship with Russia and Putin.
Last month, the South African government announced that it would not be arresting Putin upon his visit to the country in August, despite the International Criminal Court issuing a warrant for his arrest for war crimes. In addition, a planned naval exercise held jointly with Russia and China in February was condemned by the DA and the foundation of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called the drills “disgraceful” and “tantamount to a declaration that South Africa is joining the war against Ukraine”.
In conclusion, the US’s accusation of South Africa secretly supplying arms to Russia has put the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa in a difficult position. If the accusation is proven to be true, it could harm South Africa’s reputation with its international partners and potentially damage its relationship with the western world. It remains to be seen how the government will respond to these allegations, and whether it will continue to maintain a neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.