Ramaphosa says South Africa didn’t give any weapons to Russia

 ·3 Sep 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that South Africa and other BRICS nations will start working towards trading in local currencies, furthering talk of moving away from a dominant dollar in global trade.

In an address on Sunday evening (3 September), the president said that the recently-held BRICS Summit in Johannesburg was foundational in boosting the economic ties between the bloc nations as well as the new members.

As part of this boost, the summit decided that the finance ministers or central bank governors of BRICS countries “should consider the use of our various countries’ local currencies, payment instruments and platforms in international trade and financial transactions between BRICS and their respective trading partners,” he said.

The stakeholders are expected to report back at the next summit, he added.

While not referring to the move as “de-dollarisation”, the statement feeds talk of the concept, which saw speculation over a potential unified currency bloc heating up before the summit.

However, talk about a new currency has been roundly dismissed by the National Treasury.

Lady R matter cleared

The second matter the president addressed related to the investigation into the docking of the Russian Lary R ship in Simonstown.

The US ambassador to South Africa alleged earlier this year that South Africa had supplied arms to Russia when the ship docked in late 2022.

Ramaphosa appointed Judge Phineas Mojapelo to lead a panel to investigate claims made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, that the weapons were loaded onto a Russian cargo ship, the Lady R, that docked in the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town in December.

The claim sparked fears of a diplomatic fall between South Africa and its second-largest trading partner that could potentially cost it its preferential access to American markets, and the rand tumbled to a record low against the dollar.

“The allegations levelled against our country had a most damaging effect on our currency, economy and our standing in the world and tarnished our image,” the president said in a televised address to the nation on Sunday.

“The panel found no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export on the ship, the Lady R.”

South Africa’s government says it has adopted a non-aligned position toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and refused to back United Nations resolutions sanctioning Moscow.

Brigety has stood accused within South Africa of failing to follow proper diplomatic protocol and the government has faced calls to expel him.

Ramaphosa said he wouldn’t release the full report because some of the information it contained is classified, but that he will release an executive summary on Monday.

With Bloomberg

Read: Major BEE changes for businesses in South Africa waiting on Ramaphosa

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