US ambassador Brigety meets ANC big wigs to apologise

Embattled US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety has apologised to the ANC for accusing it of expressing “anti-American sentiments”.

According to ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, members of the party led by its secretary-general Fikile Mbalula met with Brigety at Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Wednesday. 

This was in an attempt to clear the contentious air regarding Brigety’s controversial claims that South Africa was arming Russia.

“The ambassador reiterated his apology as conveyed by comrade Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,” said Bhengu-Motsiri.

“The meeting was cordial. The SG [secretary-general] firmly reiterated the centrality of the ANC’s approach to international relations.

“This is a position that is rooted in the national democratic revolution and is directed by our historical mandate contained in the Freedom Charter that there shall be peace and friendship.

“Since our formation as the ANC, our historical mission is to contribute to the building of a better Africa and a better world that is founded on being humane, just, equitable, democratic and free.”

She said it was crucial to keep good relations between the US and South Africa.

“The meeting discussed the importance of the relationship between the people of South Africa and the people of the United States of America.

“Whilst there may be points of divergence on certain points, we remain committed to diplomatic engagements to resolve challenges on our shared interests.

“The meeting agreed to a follow-up bilateral meeting with the ANC’s NEC [national executive committee] sub-committee on international relations.

“The ANC will continue engaging with members of the diplomatic corps, as we believe that through dialogue, we can bring resolution to our collective challenges.”

On Tuesday,  the Russian embassy said Brigety’s unsubstantiated allegations were part of a plot to put pressure on South Africa to pick a side in the Ukraine-Russia war and were being “coordinated with Western mainstream media”.

It said it was not surprised that the US would make such allegations without providing evidence, noting that it was typical of US’s foreign policy to appoint “guilty parties at [their] own discretion” and resort to “megaphone diplomacy”.

The US embassy declined to comment about the meeting.

Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has confirmed that the chief of the SA Army, Lieutenant-General Lawrence Mbatha, is in Moscow for a bilateral exchange between the two military establishments.

Brigadier-General Andries Mahapa said the bilateral meeting was planned before Brigety’s allegations were made public.

“It must be emphasized that the bilateral is a long-standing arrangement. The chief of the SA Army received an invitation from his Russian counterpart for a goodwill visit. The visit includes a call to the higher combined Army Academy and the Artillery Military Academy,” said Mahapa.

“During this visit, the chief of the SA Army will also have staff talks with military officials.
It must be noted that South Africa has military-to-military bilateral relations with various countries on the continent and beyond.

“The SANDF receives numerous military delegations into the country and sends its own delegation to other countries to discuss matters of mutual interest.”


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