South African Diplomat Speaks On Putin’s Arrest Warrant – OpEd


South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka, has reiterated in an interview that South Africa values its relations with Russia and the BRICS. And that South Africa’s neutral position is consistent on all military conflicts around the world, that the international community needs to work together to bring peace.

Maqetuka further explained that South Africa is committed to the articles of the United Nations (UN) Charter, including the principle that all members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means. Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa almost 30 years ago, we have called for the reform of the United Nations and multilateral organisations to make such structures more representative, inclusive of African representation.

“South Africa is a sovereign state, governed by a democratic Constitution and committed to the consistent application of international law. We will continue to fulfil our obligations in terms of the various international agreements and treaties to which we are signatories,” he underlined in the interview with this article author.

Speaking particularly on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Maqetuka said “the international community needs to urgently achieve a cessation of hostilities and to prevent further loss of life and displacement of civilians in Ukraine. It needs to support meaningful dialogue towards lasting peace, which ensures the security and stability of all nations.” 

“We support the principle that members should refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states. The South African position seeks to contribute to the creation of conditions that make the achievement of a durable resolution of the conflict possible.” the top diplomat added.

Speaking also to RT on Friday, Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka said plans for the gathering between August 22 and 24 in Johannesburg were well underway. South Africa will host the 15th annual BRICS summit this August, the country’s ambassador to Russia has confirmed, dismissing speculation that it may be moved elsewhere due to an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Recent reports suggested that South Africa was considering relocating the summit to China in order to avoid dealing with the ICC’s warrant against Putin. It was issued in March on foot of allegations of war crimes. China, however, is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC.

Maqetuka said Pretoria understands its international obligation as a signatory of the statute, but that there were no plans to move the event to another nation. “South Africa has made it very clear,” he said, adding that Pretoria is engaging “with all parties” in relation to the ICC warrant. “The position still remains as far as South Africa is concerned; the summit would be held in Johannesburg as has been agreed on,” Maqetuka told RT.

Earlier this month, South African Deputy Minister Obed Bapela said the country was making legislative changes to make its national laws outrank the ICC. The law currently obliges Pretoria to arrest Putin if he touches down in the nation for the BRICS summit. The changes would mean South Africa can “give itself exemptions of who to arrest and who not to arrest,” Bapela told the BBC.

Maqetuka noted that the government has already granted diplomatic immunity to foreign officials attending the upcoming BRICS meetings, a move which was announced by the Foreign Affairs Ministry late last month. This is all done “within the framework of the ICC,” he said.

The diplomat also emphasized his country’s non-aligned stance on the Ukrainian conflict, pointing out that this is nothing new, but is based on its history as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). NAM was founded in 1961 to chart an independent course in global politics, preventing member countries from becoming players in struggles among major powers.

South Africa has always taken a non-aligned position. It is a continuation of the position of South Africa,” he said, noting that this is the case “especially where there are military conflicts.” According to Maqetuka, this position has never jeopardized South Africa’s trade relations with other countries around the world.

Meanwhile, seven African presidents, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, will travel to Kiev and St. Petersburg next week to discuss a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict. These are Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, and the incumbent chair of the African Union, the Comoros.

The seven-member delegation is scheduled to be in Kiev on June 16 where they will meet President Vladimir Zelensky, the NGO said. The group will then be received by Russian president Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg on June 17, it stated.

Africa stepping up and taking some initiative for peace. The South African government reported that the Russian leader “welcomed the initiative by African Heads of State and expressed his desire to receive the peace mission.” It also stated last month that Zelensky had approved of the initiative and consented to host the leaders.

On May 16, Ramaphosa personally also announced that Russian and Ukrainian authorities had agreed to host an African delegation to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Ramaphosa spoke by the phone with the two leaders prior to this announcement.

Seven African presidents are part of a peace mission to find a solution to the Ukrainian crisis that will visit Kiev and St. Petersburg next week, the Brazzaville Foundation reported. The Brazzaville Foundation was created in the summer of 2014 by French businessman Jean-Yves Olivier, who is its current president. The organization is headquartered in London.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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