Sudden U-turn proof government is arming war criminals – DA

The DA is strongly opposing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s intention to withhold the findings of an inquiry into alleged arms smuggling to Russia.

The official opposition further vowed to challenge any attempt to keep the report hidden from the public, raising concerns about potential economic repercussions and a loss of international standing.

Ramaphosa has appointed a panel to investigate claims made by US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, regarding a Russian ship’s alleged loading of weapons and ammunition in the Western Cape.

However, the Presidency recently announced that the report would not be made public, a decision that has been met with criticism from many including the opposition party.

In a statement, DA leader John Steenhuisen asserted: “Hiding the truth about the ANC government’s alleged involvement in smuggling arms to Russia will lead to further economic suffering.”

Steenhuisen argued that such secrecy could deter investors, cause the depreciation of the rand, trigger inflation, and potentially result in the loss of 100 000 jobs if South Africa is excluded from the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).

He emphasized that withholding the report would also undermine the purpose of the investigation, pointing out that Ramaphosa had acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations and the impact on international relations when he established the inquiry.

He explained: “Hiding this report from public view will rob the people of South Africa, and of the world, of the opportunity to see the full facts of this matter.

“Refusing to disclose the complete picture of how the ANC-led government allegedly smuggled weapons to arm Russia’s war in Ukraine and various parts of Africa will also undermine the very purpose of the investigation.”

Steenhuisen warned that the alleged cover-up could increase the likelihood of South Africa being expelled from the AGOA trade agreement with the US.

He argues that hiding the panel’s findings would severely hinder the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold any guilty parties accountable for potential violations of the law.

“When he established the panel, Ramaphosa also said that it ‘will evaluate whether constitutional, legal or other obligations were complied with in relation to the cargo ship’s arrival, its stay, the loading or off-loading of its contents, and its departure’.

“Hiding the panel’s findings will completely undermine the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold guilty parties accountable for any such violations of the law.”

According to Steenhuisen, the DA firmly believes that the president’s sudden turn to secrecy indicates his government’s involvement in arming “war criminals”, viewing Ramaphosa’s response as a violation of his oath of office.

“It is patently clear that Ramaphosa intends to hide the facts surrounding the Lady R’s docking from the people of South Africa to protect ANC cadres and Russian comrades.

“The only logical reason for his sudden turn to secrecy is that Ramaphosa has realised that the report will confirm his government’s role in arming war criminals.

“Hiding the truth to protect the ANC at the expense, once again, of the people of South Africa, would amount to a violation of his oath of office.”

As this dispute intensifies, it remains to be seen how the legal challenges brought forth by the DA will unfold and whether the report on the alleged arms smuggling will eventually be made public.

Meanwhile, the fate of South Africa’s international relations and its standing in the AGOA trade agreement now hangs in the balance.


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