EFF leader Julius Malema has added his voice to those who have publicly raised concerns about the government’s handling of US Ambassador Reuben Brigety’s claims that South Africa armed Russia, saying he should have been expelled from the country and his credentials withdrawn.
Addressing a media briefing in Johannesburg yesterday, Malema poured cold water on Brigety’s allegations, insisting that the South African government had no capacity to produce any ammunition for the Russian government, even though he wished they did.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) was among the first organisations this week to make scathing remarks against Brigety, saying he must be expelled. Spokesperson Alex Mashilo had also accused the US of attempting to impose its will on South Africa and bully it to cut ties with Russia, especially given the upcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg, to which Russian President Vladimir Putin has been invited.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has said that Brigety apologised unreservedly for his utterances, after being summoned by Minister Naledi Pandor. But Malema maintained that the US Ambassador’s apology was not enough.
“That ambassador of the USA was supposed to be taken out of the country the following day. He insulted us. He violated diplomatic protocols. That is why he was sanctioned, and then he started speaking in forked tongues and we didn’t hear what he was saying.
“A man who speaks like that in the name of diplomacy? You immediately withdraw his credentials. That man’s credentials were supposed to be withdrawn. There are lots of protocol channels that are established for those types of concerns,” said Malema.
Malema said if Brigety’s concerns were genuine, he would have used proper channels to communicate such. He accused him of using tricks and semantics to avoid a direct apology to South Africans for having “insulted” them.
“There are lots of protocol channels established for those types of concerns. But to create such an atmosphere for our country, to create doubt and smear our country in the manner he did? And he still hasn’t come out to apologise. He says maybe things were misunderstood, but we understood him. That is not the type of a guy we need,” said Malema.
Malema added that had the Brigety’s claims been true, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Freedom Front Plus would have been the first to know because Defence Minister Thandi Modise would not have colluded with Afrikaner military leaders to hide the truth about arms sales to Russia.
“I’m asking myself, who can sneak out the weapons and why didn’t the DA and the Freedom Front know? They are the ones who control all strategic sectors of South Africa. In the armaments, white Afrikaner males are there.
“You can’t take any armaments from this country without them leaking such information with immediate effect and taking pictures,” Malema said.
Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela did not respond to questions about the withdrawal of diplomatic credentials and the processes involved. US Embassy spokesperson David Feldmann did not respond to media questions regarding the EFF’s suggestion that Brigety should have been sent back to the US.