South Africa is to launch an independent inquiry, led by a retired judge, into allegations that it supplied weapons and ammunition to Russia. These allegations were made by the United States, who accused South Africa of delivering arms to Russia through a sanctioned ship, Lady R. The US Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben E. Brigety, expressed confidence in the accuracy of his country’s intelligence on this matter and mentioned that South Africa’s governing party, African National Congress (ANC), was hostile towards the US.
The Issue Came to Light During a High-Level South African Delegation to the US
The issue was brought to light in April when a high-level South African delegation visited Washington, accompanied by Ambassador Brigety. The visit aimed to ensure South Africa’s continued inclusion in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which accounted for R400 billion in trade between the two nations last year. During this trip, the US raised concerns, including the docking of Lady R and South Africa’s participation in military exercises with Russia and China.
Concerns Raised by Ambassador Brigety
Ambassador Brigety noted the joint naval exercises around the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, expressing serious concerns about the timing. South African President Ramaphosa released a statement in response to Brigety’s remarks, saying the ambassador’s comments undermined the spirit of cooperation and partnership between the two countries. Ramaphosa also mentioned that the South African government was aware of the US allegations before Brigety went public.
Investigation to Be Launched
According to President Ramaphosa, the Lady R matter was discussed during the visit, and an investigation was agreed to proceed. The US was expected to provide evidence in support of their allegations to the inquiry. However, Ramaphosa claimed that no evidence had been provided to date. To address this issue, the President announced the establishment of an independent investigation led by a retired judge to investigate the matter.
Disappointment in Ambassador Brigety’s Public Posture
Ramaphosa expressed disappointment in Ambassador Brigety’s public posture, stating that it undermined the understanding reached between the two countries and the constructive engagements between their delegations. The independent inquiry will aim to clarify the situation and ensure a thorough investigation of the allegations.