Speaker abuses Parliament to cover-up allegations that SA gave arms to Russia

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
19 May 2023 in News

Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Tsenoli, has denied my request for an urgent debate of national importance on US allegations that South Africa provided war materials to Russia.

His rationale is that the allegations although serious, remain speculative.

But even though the allegations “may yet prove unfounded”, they have already done profound damage to South Africa’s global reputation, and to investor confidence as shown in the sudden drop in the value of the rand when the allegations were published last Thursday.

If these allegations are false, then President Ramaphosa and his government should deny them emphatically giving evidence to back up their denial. Instead, five months later Defence Minister Thandi Modise has still not produced “the paperwork” to show what was loaded on the ship.

It took President Ramaphosa five months to act, from when the US first raised concerns about this matter, and when he did it was to institute yet another open-ended investigation about which no specific details have been shared, such as who the retired judge is and what deadline has been set. Probably because none of this has even been decided yet.

The president’s failure to act decisively and give unequivocal assurances has naturally aroused deep suspicion and concern at home and abroad.

By failing to deal with this matter openly and swiftly, President Ramaphosa has put at risk R60 billion rand of annual SA exports to the US that are made possible by our AGOA duty-free benefits, which can be withdrawn by the US at any stage, and which are up for review in 2025.

This will do severe social and economic harm to the ordinary South Africans working in the automotive, agricultural and other sectors that rely heavily on AGOA for market access for their products.

At least 100 000 jobs are at risk.

With broad unemployment in South Africa standing at over 40% and with over 30 million people living below the poverty line, there can be no more important matter for the House to discuss.

But it comes as no surprise that, yet again, the ANC Speaker has chosen to protect the ANC executive and shield them from accountability.

The DA in national government will restore the role of Parliament as a proper watchdog rather than a captured lapdog.

We will put the interests of citizens first. Growing investment and jobs will be our highest priority. And we will openly stand with countries that respect human rights and democracy over those that invade sovereign nations and kill innocent civilians. In 2024, a vote for the DA will be a vote to save South Africa’s AGOA benefits.