Cape Town – Former president Thabo Mbeki says he does not believe that weapons were sold by the South African government to Russia.
The claims were made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, and an inquiry has been initiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mbeki said that South Africa has strict laws regulating arms sales and doubted that such a transaction took place.
He also noted that the Russian weapons industry was more advanced than that of South Africa, making it unlikely that Russia would seek weapons from the country.
“The law in South Africa does not allow for the export of weapons to countries that are in conflict- so, I doubt it, I don’t think it happened. If it happened, whoever is responsible must be criminally charged.
“The second thing I would say – as far as I know, the South African armaments industry does not produce the sophisticated weapons that the Russians are using. There are no weapons that the Russians would want to buy from South Africa,” Mbeki said during an interview with SABC News.
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Mbeki also commented on the warrant of arrest issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
The Presidency has previously said that its intention is to resolve the issue regarding Putin’s possible visit to South Africa before the country hosts the Brics summit in August.
SA has come under pressure to take action against the Russian president.
Mbeki said: “I think Brics countries must agree either to hold the summit chaired by South Africa in one of the Brics countries outside South Africa or hold it virtually because I’m quite sure we can’t say to President Putin ‘please come to South Africa’ and arrest him. At the same time, we can’t say ‘come to South Africa’ and not arrest him because we are defying our own law. We can’t behave as a lawless government.”
Speaking on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mbeki said it would be wrong for South Africa to allow anyone to intimidate the country regarding its nonalignment stance, EWN reported.
He supported President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to resist picking a side in the conflict.
Ramaphosa told guests at an event commemorating Africa Day that the country would not be drawn into a contest between global powers, the report said.
Mbeki agreed, saying that the country must stand firm.
“They might intimidate you and say, ‘tomorrow, we won’t buy your bananas’, and you succumb, then tomorrow, they are going to say they won’t buy your cars. You can’t open that door,” the report quoted him as saying.
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