Minister Ntshavheni’s Russian meeting another diplomatic blunder

Issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP – DA Shadow Minister of State Security
22 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns State Security Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s attendance of the “International Meeting of High-level Officials responsible for Security Matters” in Russia.

Given the recent claims made by the US Ambassador in South Africa regarding alleged ammunition supply to Russia by South Africa, this visit is yet another diplomatic blunder that could cost South Africa dearly.

In her Budget speech on Friday the Minister made much of the wonderful relationship South Africa has with the US “our biggest trading partner” – and now this.

The timing of this meeting is highly concerning and raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to responsible diplomacy, national security, and non-alignment. The DA strongly believes that any engagement with Russia, particularly in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, should be approached with the utmost caution and consideration for South Africa’s international reputation.

The DA calls on the government to prioritize the national security of our nation – while protecting our country’s diplomatic standing. It is essential for the government to provide clear and unequivocal responses to the allegations of arms supply to Russia, reassuring the public and the international community of South Africa’s commitment to responsible defence practices.

We question the denialist bluster by the ANC after the Ambassador’s claims and await the outcome of the investigation into the matter of the Wagner Group registered cargo ship which turned off its transponder soon after leaving Luanda, and, it is claimed, docked in Simonstown, where truck-borne cranes had been brought in to load and offload the cargo. The containers being transported to and from the ship were, it is claimed, all registered to the SANDF. The ship then returned to Russia. It is said that SA does indeed have weapons and ammo common to Russia – despite claims to the contrary. These would include, for example, AK 47s, 155 mm artillery and shells and frequency-hopping radios.

The DA will continue to hold the government accountable and demand transparency in matters of national security and foreign relations. South Africa deserves a government that upholds the highest standards of diplomacy and safeguards our national interests, not one that sets up endless commissions of inquiry to avoid accountability and take years to complete.