One of Africa’s most-celebrated authors and playwrights, Ghanaian Ama Ata Aidoo, has died aged 81.
A renowned feminist, she depicted and celebrated the condition of African women in works such as The Dilemma of a Ghost, Our Sister Killjoy and Changes.
She opposed what she described as a “Western perception that the African female is a downtrodden wretch”.
She also served as education minister in the early 1980s but resigned when she could not make education free.
In a statement, her family said “our beloved relative and writer” passed away after a short illness, requesting privacy to allow them to grieve.
A university professor, Ata Aidoo won many literary awards including the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Changes, a love story about a statistician who divorces her first husband and enters into a polygamist marriage.
Her work, including plays like Anowa, have been read in schools across West Africa, along with works of other greats like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.
ICC’s Khan calls for ‘new way’ to tackle DR Congo war crimes
The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan called on Monday for “a new way of working” to tackle war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Armed groups have plagued much of mineral-rich eastern DRC for three decades, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s, and underreported conflicts simmer elsewhere in the vast central African nation.
The ICC, operating since 2002, launched its first investigations in the northeastern Ituri region in 2004.
The court since handed down three final sentences for crimes committed in the DRC.
“We’ve had cases, we’ve had convictions — but there is a truth staring at us in the face… the rapes have not stopped, the crimes have not stopped,” Khan told reporters after meeting Denis Mukwege.
Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his work on behalf of rape victims, and the two met at his hospital in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province.
The ICC prosecutor, who also planned to visit Ituri, will complete his stay in the DRC in Kinshasa where he will meet with the authorities.
“The message is: we need to find a new way of working in my view, not in the same way that we’ve been doing since 2004,” the prosecutor said.
He called for “stronger partnership” between the government, provincial governors, civil society, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations to show a common will to put an end to crimes.
Mukwege did not speak publicly during the visit, but has consistently called for an end to impunity and for “transitional justice” to stop the spiral of violence that has plagued eastern DRC since the 1990s.
In the courtyard of his hospital, representatives of victims had gathered to welcome the ICC prosecutor, holding banners calling for justice.
“SOS Justice — we mourn our innocent brothers and sisters massacred en masse during the so-called liberation wars,” read one of the signs.
“At the ICC, we are only asking for justice,” Felix Bafulwa, 63, whose father and brother were killed on October 28, 1996, told AFP.
Neema Cikambasi, 43, recalled how rebels killed 11 members of her family that same day in October 1996.
“The people killed were all buried in three mass graves.”
Additional sources • AFP
Displaced Sudanese in Wad Madani groan over lack of cash
Some Sudanese people who had fled home due to the fighting that erupted in Khartoum last month, ended up living in a center for the displaced in Wad Madani, some 186 kilometers south of Khartoum.
The Shaimaa shelter accommodates families through youth-led initiatives that have spread information online to help people find a place to stay.
Fatima Adam, who left Khartoum, said she was grateful for her safety but added it was “not the same as having your own home.”
Worsening tensions between military rivals in Sudan exploded into open fighting last month.
The fighting displaced more than 1.3 million people, the U.N. migration agency said last Wednesday.
For some of the Sudanese displaced in Wad Madani, access to cash has become increasingly difficult.
Mortada Yassin, a man displaced from Khartoum, said he had to visit multiple bank branches to find one that was open.
Banks were also severely overcrowded, added Yassin who was finally able to withdraw some cash after a long wait.
The fighting erupted on April 15 after months of escalating tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The conflict derailed Sudanese hopes of restoring the country’s fragile transition to democracy, which was disrupted by a military coup led by the two generals in October 2021.
It’s time for Africa’s partners to get serious about the AfCFTA
It has become quite fashionable, whenever the African continent is mentioned by development partners, to talk about the African Continental Free Trade Area. This is rightly so: the AfCFTA is potentially game-changing for the continent, and is the world’s largest free trade area by numbers of countries.
The AfCFTA now covers a market of 1.2 billion people – only 500m of whom live above the poverty line. But, if United Nations projections are to be believed, by 2050 it will cover a market of 2.5bn people and, based on current projections, around 2.1bn people will live above the poverty line.
Furthermore, if African aspirations are to be believed, then this market will not just be the world’s largest consumption market but also a manufacturing hub, similar to the role China currently plays in the world economy. This is elaborated in the African Union’s collective development plan Agenda 2063 – in which the AfCFTA is just one of 15 flagship projects and six policy frameworks to be implemented over the coming years, albeit a massive one.
The AfCFTA has also shown itself to be effective. It came into force in January 2021 and by May 2023 46 countries have ratified the agreement out of 54 signatories; protocols for harmonised competition, investment and special economic zone rules have been adopted; and Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tunisia have already traded “tariff free” in various products.
This progress is comparable to, if not even faster than, that of the Asian-dominated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The problem is that, despite it being fashionable, most of Africa’s development partners are not yet being serious about the AfCFTA.
Why partners need to deal with the AfCFTA
How and why does this matter? I know there are readers who will already be saying out loud as they read this – “the AfCFTA is an internal policy, it only needs Africans to be serious about it.” Before I explain why that might be a limiting perspective, let me first explain why I think the partners are not being serious.
If Africa’s development partners were being serious, we would see mention of the AfCFTA in major policy documents and schemes such as communiqués from the G7 group of “most advanced” economies or the G20 forum of 19 countries and the European Union. That hasn’t happened yet.
This is partly because, as research that my firm will soon release explains, Africa currently accounts for just 3% of G20 imports. So even when the G7 are saying “we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying” they are hardly thinking about the African continent. Switzerland occupies a greater share of G20 imports than does the entire African continent.
If Africa’s development partners were being serious, we’d also be seeing more policy papers being released by think-tanks across the world about options for integrating the AfCFTA with current trade initiatives, such as the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) or the UK’s recently-revised preferential trade scheme for developing countries.
I say “more” because as far as I know, there are only a handful of such papers – including one by my colleagues, commissioned by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). This focused on trade policy relationships between China and African countries. It considered a spectrum of measures; from preserving status-quo duty-free schemes targeted at least-developed countries, combined with specific bilateral free trade agreements to, at the other end of the spectrum, creating a free-trade area with the entire AfCFTA region.
It argued that the option that would best complement the AfCFTA would be a preferential trade agreement for the entire AfCFTA. In other words, duty-free, quota-free access for every African country.
This result is also likely to apply for the US, the UK and most other development partners. But where are the think-tanks and policymakers from African countries – or those from the UK or US themselves – reviewing these options in depth, linking them to direct policy negotiation opportunities, or global meetings such as those of the World Trade Organization?
My colleagues argued that such a preferential trade agreement should be a key outcome at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), convened every three years by Chinese and African leaders. The next FOCAC will take place in Beijing in 2024.
There is a strong case to be made for fully recognising the AfCFTA in AGOA, for example, as a means for the US to address the failings of this existing trade regime. But this case has not yet been made, even though AGOA is due for renewal in 2025. This means serious options are not yet on the table, either from the African or the American side.
Does it matter? If, as I have noted, the AfCFTA is an African regional policy – is it not therefore only what is done on the continent that matters? Beyond this, some might argue that trade partners are being serious because many are ploughing millions into “aid for trade” schemes, such as Trade Mark Africa (TMA) which primarily provides training and digital equipment from British and European experts to reduce customs procedures and other at-the-border processes.
To consider Africa in isolation is ahistorical
The AfCFTA’s success is of course dependent to a degree on the willingness of individual member states and their leaders to make it work. But to rely only on action on the continent is short-sighted and ahistorical. Africa’s trade patterns are highly dominated by extractive-based investment and consumption – from agricultural products such as cocoa, to critical minerals such as lithium, to simple medicines. This pattern typically shows itself in trade deficits in all other sectors. For instance every single African country – even the most industrialised – is a net importer of pharmaceutical products.
These extractive patterns were established in colonial times and the era of slavery – and are so pervasive that they even set the tone for trade partners that were never involved in these gross atrocities. There is just one G20 country – Mexico – that does not have a trade deficit with the vast majority of African countries.
The fact is that the AfCFTA on its own, even with aid-for-trade and targeted preferential schemes, will not change these extractive patterns with development partners – however many tariffs are reduced or customs procedures simplified or digitalised. To change those patterns needs intentional, proactive policies.
The two questions that every African trade negotiator and leader must therefore have for our development partners must be: what policies are you taking to recognise the AfCFTA in your own trade policy; and how quickly do you think those new policies will reshape your trade patterns with the continent to make them more resilient, sustainable and reliable?
Only when development partners can answer this, will they demonstrate they are being serious, not just fashionable.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina left fuming over Mkhwebane bribe allegations
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina says she has no knowledge of alleged attempts to request money from Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to influence her impeachment inquiry.
Lindsay Dentlinger | 29 May 2023
CAPE TOWN – African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Pemmy Majodina says she has no knowledge of alleged attempts to request money from Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to influence her impeachment inquiry.
In an interview with the SABC, Majodina has lashed out at journalists who have been reporting on the claims and has threatened to sue them.
It’s alleged that Majodina, chairperson of the impeachment inquiry Richard Dyantyi, and chairperson of Parliament’s police committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, are involved in the bribery plot.
The parliamentary inquiry testing Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office is currently on hold over issues related to her legal representation.
While chairperson of the inquiry, Richard Dyantyi, says he won’t be distracted by Mkhwebane’s shenanigans, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina is fuming.
She referred Eyewitness News to her interview with the SABC.
“I know nothing about it. I can’t wait to be investigated. I have not been called by any police. I don’t even know when this thing has happened.”
Majodina says this is not the first time she’s been accused of attempting to manipulate the outcome of the inquiry in which she plays no part.
“How do you bribe people who are on a fact-finding mission? So today, it’s me now that wants to end this case of Mkhwebane. I mean, how is that possible?
ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who appears to be at the centre of the allegations, is yet to comment.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu sworn in as Nigeria’s new president
and Euronews with AP
Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu has been sworn in as president of Africa’s most populous country at a period of unprecedented challenges, leaving some citizens hopeful for a better life and others skeptical that his government would perform better than the one he succeeded.
The former governor of Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub, Tinubu, 71, was sworn in as Nigeria’s president in Abuja, the capital city, in the presence of thousands of Nigerians and several heads of governments. He succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari to lead a country that by 2050 is forecast to become the third most populous nation in the world, tied with the United States after India and China.
He has promised to build on Buhari’s efforts to deliver democratic dividends to citizens in a country where deadly security crises, widespread poverty, and hunger have left many frustrated and angry. And with his election still being contested in court by opposition parties and among many young Nigerians, Tinubu has also pledged to reunite the country.
His manifesto of “renewed hope” prioritizes the creation of sufficient jobs and ramping up of local production of goods, investing in agriculture and public infrastructure, providing economic opportunities for the poorest and most vulnerable as well as creating better national security architecture to tackle all forms of insecurity.
Mountain of challenges
However, Tinubu’s ambitious plans could be threatened in his first 100 days in office by a mountain of challenges, from insecurity to a fiscal crisis, poverty, and deepening public discontent with the state, said Mucahid Durmaz, Senior West Africa Analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft.
Some analysts also say the promises made by Tinubu and the hope they bring are reminiscent of when Buhari was first elected president in 2015 as a former military head of state. His priorities were to fight insecurity and build the economy but he ended up failing to meet the expectations of many.
“No Nigerian president has come into office with so much goodwill from citizens as President Buhari but no other president has squandered it as quickly as President Buhari did,” said Dr Seun Kolade, a Nigerian development expert and associate professor at De Montfort University, in the U.K. “In terms of expectations and what is possible, this is a very mediocre eight years, to put it mildly.”
In Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, locals identified economic hardship and insecurity as the biggest challenges they struggled with during Buhari’s eight-year rule. “People have really suffered (during) this period. People have been dying because of a lack of money, and I pray and hope we should not experience this kind of thing again under the new president,” said Princess Taiwo, a fruit seller.
After Sunday Imoke lost his brother to a bombing in the Nyanya suburb in 2014, the trader joined millions to vote out then-president Goodluck Jonathan in the hope of a more secure country. But his hopes were dashed by the outgoing president, he said.
‘Buhari did not do well’
“Under Buhari, many people died. Buhari did not do well, he did not do anything and he did not have the fear of God,” said Imoke.
Long before Buhari came to power in 2015, Nigeria’s development has for many years slowed under the weight of poor governance and endemic corruption, making it difficult for citizens to benefit from the country’s high earnings as Africa’s top oil producer.
Though he has whittled down the power of Islamic extremists in the northeast and has built key infrastructure with the aid of foreign loans, many believe the quality of life and standard of living has reduced under Buhari. They cite widening insecurity in other parts of the country, growing poverty as well as an economy struggling with record unemployment, inflation at an 18-year high of 22.2%, and rising debt.
“When you combine the lack of opportunities in an environment that is disabling with a strong youth population that is frustrated, that is a ticking time bomb and that is the story of Nigeria over the past 50 years and Buhari has made it worse,” said development expert Kolade.
Coming from the ruling All Progressives Congress, which has been dogged with allegations of corruption, Tinubu’s emergence as Nigeria’s president-elect has also drawn concerns about how transparent he would be in office.
Although he has often talked about assembling the best hands to lead Nigeria, the nation’s problem has never been about the quality of public officials but about accountability, said Leena Koni Hoffmann-Atar, associate fellow in the Africa program at the Chatham House think tank.
Act quickly anc decisively
“What we underestimate is that for state institutions to be strengthened, beyond the character and competence of the individuals, you have to have processes of accountability. And it remains to be seen whether accountability in state institutions will be strengthened under his administration,” said Hoffmann-Atar.
Tinubu must also act quickly and decisively to tackle Nigeria’s security crises with the country already in a critical situation, analysts said.
“There is already a very substantial loss of confidence in the government as a protector of citizens,” said Nnamdi Obasi, senior adviser for Nigeria at the International Crisis Group. “If the new government fails to act very decisively, we would have more people seeking their own self-help and protection.”
Among those now contemplating self-protection are villagers in north central Plateau state’s Mangu district where gunmen killed more than 100 people in a late-night attack earlier in May. Yaputat Pokyes, one of the survivors, said all that they want from the incoming president is to help them stay alive.
“If he comes, he should give people the security they need,” said Pokyes. “We no longer sleep because of fear; we don’t know when the attackers will come back.”
U.S., Saudi Arabia call for extended ceasefire in Sudan
Khalid Abdelaziz, Reuters News
DUBAI – Saudi Arabia and the United States called on Sunday for the extension of a ceasefire deal that has brought some let-up in a six-week war between military factions but little humanitarian relief for civilians.
There were clashes overnight in the capital Khartoum and Omdurman, an adjoining city across the Nile, residents said, while human rights monitors reported deadly fighting in El Fashir, one of the principal cities in the western region of Darfur.
The conflict between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that erupted on April 15 has left the capital reeling from heavy battles, lawlessness and a collapse in services, driving more than 1.3 million people from their homes and threatening to destabilise the region.
A week-long ceasefire brokered in Saudi and U.S.-led talks in Jeddah is due to run until Monday evening. Both countries are remotely monitoring the truce, which has been repeatedly violated, and called on the army and the RSF “to continue discussions to reach agreement on extending the ceasefire”.
“While imperfect, an extension nonetheless will facilitate the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese people,” Saudi Arabia and the U.S. said in a joint statement.
The RSF has said it is ready to discuss the possibility of renewal and that it would continue to monitor the truce “to test the seriousness and commitment of the other party to proceed with the renewal of the agreement or not”.
There was no statement on the possible renewal of the ceasefire from the army.
More than 300,000 people have crossed Sudan’s borders since the fighting erupted, with the largest numbers heading north to Egypt from Khartoum or west to Chad from Darfur.
In Khartoum, factories, offices, homes and banks have been looted or destroyed. Power, water and telecommunications are often cut, there are acute shortages of medicines and medical equipment, and food supplies have been running low.
“We left because of the impact of the war. I have children and I fear for them because of the lack of medical treatment,” said one resident of the capital, 29-year-old Samia Suleiman, speaking to Reuters from the road to Egypt.
“I also want my children to have a chance of schooling. I don’t think things in Khartoum will be restored soon.”
SOME RESPITE FROM FIGHTING
The truce deal has brought some respite from heavy fighting but sporadic clashes and air strikes have carried on.
The United Nations and aid groups say that despite the truce they have struggled to get bureaucratic approvals and security guarantees to transport aid and staff to Khartoum and other places of need. Warehouses have been looted.
Violence has flared in several parts of Darfur, already scarred by conflict and displacement, with hundreds of deaths recorded in El Geneina near the border with Chad.
In recent days there has also been fighting in El Fashir, capital of North Darfur State.
One El Fashir hospital had recorded three deaths and 26 injuries on Saturday, including children, according to the Darfur Bar Association, an activist group. Many more people were missing, it said.
Across the country, the Health Ministry has said at least 730 people have died in the fighting, though the true figure is likely much higher. It has separately recorded up to 510 deaths in El Geneina.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Aidan Lewis Editing by Frances Kerry)
Cyberattack targets government websites in Senegal
Senegal’s government websites are back online this Saturday after a cyberattack paralyzed the network on Friday.
The attack was claimed by a group with alleged links to hacker group Anonymous.
The attackers expressed their solidarity with Senegalese citizens and their right to freely choose their president.
The attack took place against a background of increased tensions regarding the future of President Macky Sall who is yet to reveal if he is running for a third mandate.
On Friday, opposition figure Ousmane Sonko started his return trip to the capital, Dakar, in a so-called “caravan of freedom”.
Eritrea Independence Day Fest Mixed
NAIROBI – As a child, Filmon Debru longed for the festivities every May celebrating Erititra’s independence, and the heroes who fought and died for it. But he is no longer cheering as Eritrea marked the holiday, formally declared on May 24, 1993.
The hope and possibility Filmon felt for his young country is gone, crushed by a regime so totalitarian and repressive that Eritrea is widely called “the North Korea of Africa.”
In the small and secretive one-party state, critics disappear into gulags and civilians are conscripted for life or forced into labor under an extreme policy of national service that has been likened to slavery.
Elections have never been held and it has no free press, political opposition, or civil society.
A global pariah, the Red Sea nation has been sanctioned for meddling in regional conflicts, including most recently over abuses by its army in the Tigray war in Ethiopia.
Hundreds of thousands of Eritreans desperate for jobs and freedom have fled the tiny country, including Filmon, who risked his life to leave behind the homeland he once so proudly loved.
“Honestly, what would I be celebrating?” said the software developer, who nearly lost both hands after being chained and tortured by people smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula.
He has lived in Germany since 2014.
“What kind of independence celebration would it be?”
– ‘They paid their life for this?’ –
In Eritrea, public commemorations are well under way, with school children in colorful regalia singing patriotic songs along this year’s theme, “Heroic Feat Anchored on Cohesive Ranks.”
An “independence cup” has cris-crossed the nation, collecting “sacred soil” from the sites of legendary battles in Eritrea’s decades-long struggle against its much larger neighbor.
Propaganda aired on state-run Eri-TV throughout May hailed Eritrea’s freedom fighters but erased the heroism of independence icons who later criticized the regime, said Meron Estefanos, a Swedish Eritrean journalist and activist.
Like many Eritreans, she lost family in the liberation war, and the exploitation of their sacrifice angers her year after year.
“What would they have said?” Meron said of her four uncles who died during Eritrea’s fight for self-rule. “This is what they paid their life for?”
Isaias Afwerki, who led the rebels to victory, became president after independence until elections could be held under a new constitution.
The early years were full of promise.
Parents named their newborns Netsanet (Freedom), Awet (Victory) and Selam (Peace), freedom fighters were mobbed in the street with flowers and kisses, and media flourished.
But it was short-lived.
In 1998, Eritrea and Ethiopia began a war over a nondescript border town that lasted two years, ended in stalemate, and cost tens of thousands of lives.
Meron said it was the children of independence fighters – the generation upon whom Eritrea’s future was pinned – sent to die on the front.
“They danced for independence then… they were martyred for a meaningless war,” said Meron, whose younger brother was conscripted.
Any hope for democracy was extinguished in a brutal purge of the political opposition in 2001 that cemented Eritrea’s reputation as one of the world’s most draconian states, and Isaias its ruthless dictator.
Private media was banned and Eritrea still sits near the bottom of global rankings for press freedom, as well as human rights, civil liberties and economic development.
Vanessa Tsehaye’s uncle, a respected journalist, disappeared in the 2001 crackdown.
But the 26-year-old activist said independence day was a chance to honor him and others who dreamed of a free Eritrea “by continuing the work they started and gave up so much for.”
“Independence day for me is a call to action,” said the Swedish-born campaigner, who founded One Day Seyoum, a rights movement named after her uncle.
Habte Hagos, who has spent most of his adult life outside Eritrea, said many in the diaspora “dream day and night of returning” and independence day was a painful reminder of the lost years.
But he said attitudes were hardening, particularly as young Eritreans continued to suffer like their forebears as refugees or foot soldiers in wars like Tigray.
“We’ve had more than 60 years of misery,” said Habte, who founded the respected advocacy group Eritrea Focus in 2014.
“Eritreans have had enough.”
South Africa under more scrutiny over Russian ship as ruling ANC says it would ‘welcome’ Putin
By Rédaction Africanews with AP
The South African government was under more pressure Wednesday for declining to release cargo documents relating to the visit by a Russian ship that the United States alleges collected a consignment of weapons for Moscow.
Separately, a top official in South Africa’s ruling party added to the scrutiny of the country’s relationship with Russia by saying the party would “welcome” a visit by President Vladimir Putin, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
The comments by African National Congress Secretary General Fikile Mbalula regarding Putin were made in an interview with the BBC and in the context of the Russian leader attending a summit of the BRICS economic bloc in South Africa in August. The bloc is made up of Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.
“If it was according to the ANC, we would want President Putin to be here, even tomorrow, to come to our country,” Mbalula said in the interview, excerpts of which were posted on the ANC’s social media channels on Tuesday. “We will welcome him to come here as part and parcel of BRICS.”
As a signatory to the International Criminal Court treaty, South Africa is obliged to arrest Putin if he enters the country. The South African government has indicated it will not carry out the arrest warrant if Putin does travel for the summit, although it hasn’t said that explicitly.
“Do you think that a head of state can just be arrested anywhere?” Mbalula, a former Cabinet minister who is now the ANC’s top administrative official, said in the BBC interview.
He told the BBC interviewer there was hypocrisy on the part of the West related to the arrest warrant for Putin because, he said, Britain and other Western nations committed crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and no heads of state were arrested.
Mbalula last month referred to the United States as one of the countries “messing up the world.”
There has been increasing anti-U.S. and anti-West rhetoric in the ANC and sometimes in parts of South Africa’s government since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, despite South Africa maintaining it has a neutral stance on the war.
The trend is troubling for the U.S. and other Western partners of South Africa because of its status as an influential democracy in the developing world, and Africa’s most developed economy.
South Africa has a historical relationship with Russia connected to the old Soviet Union’s military and political support for the ANC when it was a liberation movement fighting to end the racist apartheid regime that oppressed the country’s Black majority. The West appears concerned that the ANC’s old ideological ties to Russia are now pulling South Africa into Moscow’s political orbit amid burgeoning global tensions. There are also growing economic ties between Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, and China.
The concerns were laid bare by the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa earlier this month when he accused it of providing weapons to Russia via a cargo ship that docked at a naval base near the city of Cape Town in December. Ambassador Reuben Brigety said “I would bet my life” that weapons were loaded onto the Russian-flagged Lady R, which is under U.S. sanctions for alleged ties to a company that has transported arms for the Russian government.
The South African government has denied it made any arms transaction with Russia, although it hasn’t categorically ruled out the possibility that another entity did so secretly. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered an inquiry.
On Wednesday, South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, challenged the government to come clean if it had nothing to hide and release a cargo manifest for Lady R’s visit to the Simon’s Town naval base.
A DA lawmaker also asked Defense Minister Thandi Modise to release the documents during a debate in Parliament on Tuesday. Modise refused to do so while also using an expletive to repeat the government’s denial that any weapons were loaded onto the ship.
Modise has said that the Russian ship was visiting to deliver an ammunition shipment to South Africa that was ordered in 2018 but delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Modise’s refusal to make public the cargo manifest was supported by fellow ANC lawmakers, who said the documents were “classified.” Modise said they would be handed over to the inquiry into the incident.