Paul Mashatile, the Deputy President of South Africa, has expressed concerns over unidentified individuals who seem to be targeting him. In a recent statement, Mashatile spoke about feeling threatened and revealed that he is not convinced by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assurances of safety. He suggested that these faceless adversaries might pose a potential risk to him and the stability of the country.
Speaking on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC), Mashatile disclosed that the ruling party is also worried about the upcoming elections in three crucial provinces: Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and the Eastern Cape, set to take place in 2024. The ANC is apprehensive about its performance in these provinces and is likely strategizing to secure victory.
However, one of the most pressing challenges currently facing the South African government is persuading Russian President Vladimir Putin not to attend the BRICS summit scheduled for next month. South Africa, as a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is obligated to arrest Putin, who has an active warrant issued against him by the ICC. The warrant stems from allegations of international crimes committed in Ukraine.
Mashatile candidly stated that the government finds itself in a perplexing situation. On one hand, it cannot risk the diplomatic consequences of arresting a head of state, especially when the government itself has extended an invitation to Putin. Mashatile likened it to inviting a friend over and then having to arrest them – an undeniably awkward predicament.
“The Russians are not happy, though. They want him to come,” Mashatile revealed during an interview in Johannesburg on Friday. Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor, had already confirmed last week that the BRICS summit was set to be hosted in South Africa.
Despite this tricky situation, no official decision has been made to uninvite Putin from the summit. The government’s current approach is to continue with persuasion until President Ramaphosa meets with the Russian leader in Russia later this month. This diplomatic attempt reflects South Africa’s desire to maintain amicable relations with Russia while also adhering to its international legal obligations.
Mashatile also acknowledged that uninviting Putin could present further challenges. Russia has been a founding member of BRICS, whereas South Africa joined the group later on. This makes it essential for South Africa to handle the situation delicately, as it does not want to risk straining relations within the BRICS partnership.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, allegations were made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, that the country had been involved in selling arms to Russia. These arms were reportedly loaded onto the controversial vessel, Lady R, which docked in Simonstown. As a consequence, South Africa experienced significant negative impacts on its financial markets, with its bonds and currency taking a hit.
Mashatile acknowledged the gravity of the financial consequences that could arise should Putin attend the summit and not be arrested as required by the ICC warrant. However, he remains hopeful that the matter can be resolved through diplomatic means.
As the date of the BRICS summit draws nearer, all eyes will be on President Ramaphosa’s meeting with President Putin in Russia. The outcome of this crucial encounter could have far-reaching implications for South Africa’s diplomatic relations, international obligations, and political standing within the BRICS alliance. For now, Mashatile and the government continue to tread cautiously, seeking a resolution that preserves both diplomatic ties and legal responsibilities.
Paul Mashatile Speaks Of Faceless People After Him. Ramaphosa determined there’s no threat, but Mashatile is clearly not buying it, still. He says the ANC also very worried about Gauteng, KZN, and the Eastern Cape re 2024. pic.twitter.com/OV7CIEbTI5
— Mr. Tshweu (@TshweuMoleme) July 16, 2023
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