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Two-Pronged Attack on South Africa: U.S. Ambassador Accuses Government of Arming Russia, While Currency Crashes

May 12, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In an unprecedented televised press conference on May 11, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety accused the South African government, a member of the BRICS, of having shipped munitions to Russia, contrary to its official stance of neutrality with respect to the Ukraine war. Within two or three hours, the rand fell sharply against the dollar and pound to nearly the lowest point ever. It appeared that the “markets” wished to add a punctuation mark to Brigety’s charge. The collapse may have been engineered.

It was not news that from Dec. 6-8, 2022, a Russian cargo ship, Lady R, was docked at the Simon’s Town Naval Base, Cape Town. But Ambassador Brigety claimed that the U.S. government knew with certainty that munitions were loaded onto Lady R, and referred to the totally convincing evidence that he had seen. “We are confident that weapons were loaded onto that vessel,” he said, “and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion.” Note that his remarks were made just as Prime Minister Cyril Ramaphosa was speaking in the Parliament, giving the opposition the opportunity to question him on Brigety’s accusations, of which he was unaware at that time.

Ramaphosa subsequently announced that an inquiry into the allegations had begun prior to Brigety’s public statements, and reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had been tasked to provide any information in their possession on the alleged shipment. So far no information has been provided.

A statement issued later by Ramaphosa’s office called Brigety’s remarks “disappointing.” They “undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterized the recent engagements between the U.S. government officials and a South African official delegation,” that had recently traveled to Washington. Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor summoned Brigety to her office to deliver an official démarche protesting his undiplomatic and arrogant behavior. Reuters reported this afternoon that he apologized “unreservedly” and admitted he “had crossed the line.”

Minister Pandor, who is very outspoken and has previously communicated to Secretary of State Tony Blinken that South Africa doesn’t tolerate being “bullied” by the U.S. or other Western nations, spoke by phone with Blinken this afternoon. The State Department reported that they both “reiterated cooperation on shared priorities, including health, trade, and energy.”

But President Ramaphosa also spoke by phone with President Vladimir Putin.  They vowed to deepen their strategic partnership and cooperate on key issues of mutual interest, as well as coordinate on the Second Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg in July and the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August.

This is not the end of this matter. The State Department is mightily offended by a document of the ruling ANC party from its December 2022 conference, that says the war in Ukraine is a proxy war between the U.S.-NATO and Russia. (If you tell that truth, you are not neutral!) Brigety regards membership in BRICS as inherently non-neutral. The State Department is also aggrieved that South Africa participated in joint exercises off the South African coast with China and Russia, but declined to have joint exercises with the U.S.

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