John Steenhuisen calls out Ramaphosa over Russian arms deal

DA leader, John Steenhuisen, denounces President Cyril Ramaphosa’s evasive response to the US embassy’s allegations that South Africa dealt weapons to Russia in the midst of their conflict with Ukraine. In this week’s Straight Talk newsletter, Steenhuisen places pressure on the president to provide a straight answer to the claims from the US and proclaims that the ANC government is being backed by Russian financing. The DA leader poses pertinent questions to Ramaphosa about the alleged arms deal given the ANC’s consistent assertion of non-alignment in the Russia-Ukraine war, and demands the president to take accountability for “lying to South Africa”. Steenhuisen calls out Ramaphosa’s betrayal and urges South African’s to take a stance and choose a side ahead of the 2024 national election.


The Great Betrayal: Why President Ramaphosa lied about providing weapons to Russia

By John Steenhuisen, DA Leader.

There is only one logical explanation why President Ramaphosa could not give a straight answer whether his government has provided weapons to Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. It is because they have done so.

There is only one logical explanation for why they have done so. It is because Russia is financing the ANC. President Ramaphosa is selling South Africa’s soul to keep his party afloat.

By secretly providing weapons to Russia, President Ramaphosa has betrayed the people of South Africa: our democratic values and our hopes for economic growth. He has enabled the killing of innocent civilians. And he has shown us who he is.

Read more: The mysterious Lady R: More questions re SA’s arms-to-Russia claims with Prof Esterhuyse

Questions to President

The US Ambassador accused South Africa of providing weapons to Russia claiming war materials were loaded on the sanctioned Russian ship, Lady R, when it docked in the Simon’s Town Naval Base in December.

He dropped this bombshell while Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly, as he must do once a quarter. When I asked the president to confirm or deny this, he refused to answer me.

This gives the lie to the ANC’s consistent claim to be “non-aligned”. If it were true, they would not be providing weapons to Russia, and he could have said this unequivocally in Parliament. He and his government have been lying to South Africa.

In reply to my written questions, the Minister of Defence and the Presidency in October and November last year failed to deny that Armscor and Denel (SA state-owned entities that supply weapons and ammunition) supply war materials to Russia.

Read more: Ramaphosa, Zelenskiy hold talks amid allegations of weapon supply to Russia

What’s at stake?

Unless you factor in that Russia is financing the ANC, it makes no sense at all for South Africa to side with Russia. There is a lot at stake in going against the West.

It jeopardises around R400 billion of trade between SA and the United States. It jeopardises our preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GST) programme, risking thousands of South African jobs, primarily in the automotive, agriculture, and textile industries. It jeopardises 77% of foreign direct investment in South Africa for a country with whom our trade is only 0,3%.

Democracy itself is at stake, when the ruling party sells out the country to fund its election campaign.

Read more: Cyril’s Rubicon? RW Johnson on arms-to-Russia torpedo for SA’s motor industry, AGOA, ARV supplies.

Going for broke

In the face of a massive loss of electoral support due to loadshedding, economic stagnation, crime and corruption, the ANC is going for broke – literally liquidating the country’s wealth and international good will – to save itself.

What is the DA doing?

The DA has requested an urgent debate of national importance on this matter. South Africans deserve to know the truth.

On 9 May we submitted a PAIA application to access the official documentation showing the goods that were loaded on the Russian ship Lady R as well as on the Russian plane that landed at Air Force Base Waterkloof.

We have motivated for Defence Minister Thandi Modise to be fired.

We will keep using every democratic mechanism at our disposal to uncover the truth and hold the government accountable.

Most importantly, we are offering South Africa an alternative government with a track record of delivery and a credible path to power. A government committed to growing the economy and protecting South Africa’s constitutional democracy. The DA is committed to forming a “Moonshot” Pact with like-minded parties to unite South Africa behind the Constitution, defeat the ANC, and keep the EFF out.

Read more: Dawie Roodt on SA arms-to-Russia impact – Higher interest rates, inflation, no GDP growth

Time to pick sides

The ballot box remains the most powerful tool for political accountability. The 2024 election is make-or-break for South Africa, when voters will decide if South Africa sides with global pariahs or the free world.

Dr Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” President Ramaphosa has been telling us who he is for a long time. It is time to believe him.

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